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EDITORIALS & LETTERS 1998 » BACK TO EDITORIALS & LETTERS INDEX
 
December 1998/January 1999
Notes from the Publisher

 
There is a disturbance in the Force. The beer picture is changing rapidly. Good beer is to be found almost everywhere, but the makers of good beer continue to struggle for sales, distribution, shelf space, tap handles and consumer allegiance. Interestingly, the larger good-beer producers seem to have more of a challenge than the smaller ones.

The Big-Guy beer picture is changing constantly, with many foreign alliances being made and some considerable domestic realignments taking place. Will Stroh Brewing and its eight breweries go the way of the Triceratops? Will Pabst and Miller take over Stroh’s labels? You can be sure that Anheuser-Busch will continue its push to dominate the industry. A-B currently has twice the market share of second-place Miller Brewing and undoubtedly will benefit from any weakening of fourth-place Stroh.

The import category continues to enjoy the sort of rapid growth that the domestic craft-segment experienced in the early ’90s. Domestic craft beer now has some three percent of total beer sales but hasn’t exhibited the great demand that drove the category just a few years ago.

The brewpub industry continues to experience healthy growth, with some of the larger groups showing respectable expansion and return on investment. Rock Bottom’s Frank Day returned this year as CEO to take over that ailing company and turn the 60-plus-unit business around to profitability in the third quarter. Gordon Biersch continues its ambitious expansion in high-profile locations around the country. Few other brewpub chains have been as successful. Hospitality, quality food and great beer continue to be the keys to success in this highly competitive industry with small profit margins.

Craft-beer lovers are the key to the survival of the industry. Their commitment to support their local brewery-restaurants and to be evangelists for good beer will sustain and grow the category. Ambivalence will translate into more brewery failures. It might be suggested that we get the sort of beer industry we deserve. We only deserve it by our continued commitment to and support of quality and character in the beers we buy.

As the great philosopher Pogo once observed, “We has met the enemy... and he is us!”

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Dec 1998/Jan 1999)

Dear Editor:
“What Makes a Great Alehouse?” (CBN, October/November 1998) brings back fond memories of the original Lyon’s Brewery. As I sat in the (at the time) rare pub atmosphere surrounded by beer (beer, beer, and more beer!), I knew that this was a home away from home. A belated thank you to Judy Ashworth, who was at least 10 years ahead of the times. I’m glad I knew it then and I wish everyone else could have been as lucky.

Publicans present and future, take note: She knows what she’s talking about.

Peter Vdovin
Concord, CA

Dear Peter:
Thanks so much for your comments on Judy — the Publican’s Publican. She’s been preaching the Gospel of beer longer than most. Let’s hope the beer industry is listening! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Can you help me? I have a Hamm’s 2 1/4 gal. Tapper draft beer keg. I have the refrigerator that was built for this. Where can I get it filled? I miss my draft beer. Can any of your readers help me? At 74 years old, I would like to get this keg refilled before I go to the Big Brewery in the Sky.

Thank you,
Bud Howard
San Francisco, CA

Dear Bud:
Funny name for a Hamm’s guy. Before you head off for the Land of Sky Blue Waters, we’ll make sure to get a refill for your Tapper. Working on it. Hang on! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
The article “Eastern Washington, a Tri-Cities Update” on page 15 of the August/September issue of the Celebrator contained excellent information about the Cirque Brewery. Unfortunately, the information was based upon an interview conducted over a year ago. Amber River Distribution, a new and distinctly independent distributor of craft beverages, introduced Cirque to the Seattle market in November of 1997 to great success. The brewery’s products are now widely available throughout the Seattle / Tacoma / Everett area on draft and in bottles.

Sincerely,
Bill Sharp
Amber River Distribution
Seattle, WA

Dear Bill:
Sorry for the outdated information on the Tri-Cities story. Glad to know that Amber River is on the job! Thanks for bringing more great beer to the Northwest. — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Thanks for putting it straight on beer versus wine prices. Many people I know and sell to appreciate a nice glass of wine as much as a good pint. Unfortunately, beer has a certain stigma attached to it when it comes to the comparison with wine and price points. Why, I'm not sure, unless people feel a fine wine deserves a tuxedo and a well-made pint a clean denim shirt. Either beverage has its own place and time; both earn a spot on the same shelf.

Cheers,
Tom Calhoun
Portland Brewing Company
Portland, OR

Dear Editor:
The topic you talk about in your October/November editorial, the consumer’s “willingness to pay,” is critical to the continued existence of our segment of the beer business.

In our ten years in the industry, we have witnessed the industry move along the classic life-cycle curve from the phase of infancy to the current phase of maturity. Throughout our industry’s development, our existence has been predicated on the consumer’s willingness to buy up or pay up. The pioneers of the craft beer segment based their reason for existence on the fact that they were producing beers that were different from the established standards of the day. With the marketing of pioneers like Fritz Maytag, the consumers came to accept the fact that these beers were worth more and were willing to pay more.

That has not changed, in my mind. What has changed is the way we brewers are behaving in the marketplace. I believe a number of us have lost touch with our roots — the high-end consumer and the gourmet nature of our products.

What I see here in Colorado are different types of craft beer consumers: the craft beer die-hard, brand- and segment-loyal. They seek a brand and pay the price for it. The second type is the marginal craft beer consumer. This individual looks for the “best beer on sale.” This customer’s loyalty is to the price, not the product.

From our experience, the mass-appeal game is a very difficult game to win for the small producer. When all the dealing and discounting is done, there is little left to continue to build the business.
Ultimately, I feel that if the craft beer market is relegated to $5.99 everyday pricing as the standard, or worse yet, the ceiling, we will see a lot of small brewers fall by the wayside. Only if we are able to continue to perpetuate our niche image, partly through pricing, will we be able to maintain a healthy segment of the industry. One thing for sure: Our industry provides a magnificent study of “free market” enterprise and the forces that impact our industry as it moves along its life cycle.

Thanks for making this topic available for discussion. It is an important topic for all of us.

Tastefully yours,
Jeff Mendel
Left Hand and Tabernash Brewing Companies
Longmont, CO

(The above is only an excerpt from Jeff Mendel’s excellent, thoughtful letter to us. If you would like a copy of the full text, please send an SASE to Mendel on Beer Pricing, c/o Celebrator, Box 375, Hayward, CA 94543.)

October/November 1998
Pricing the Perfect Pint — Will Consumers Pay Up?

 
A recent letter bemoaning the high cost of a pint of microbrewed beer and another letter chastising a local alehouse for no longer serving pitchers begs the question “What is a craft beer worth?” The price of a pint is predicated on the manufacturing costs of the beer and the investment in the brewing facility PLUS the needs of the retailer to cover the overhead and make a reasonable living. The price-point for beer is pretty much established by the mainstream industrial brewers that provide the preferred choice of 90 percent of American beer drinkers. The disparity in price between a generic brew and a microbrew can be large or, depending on location (like midtown Manhattan), even huge.

The price of a six-pack is also a formidable barrier to sales for some breweries. No matter the cost of production, the price-point is usually established by region, and to try to get a little more for an exotic brew is deemed foolish by some marketing experts. “The beer consumer won’t pay more than $5.99,” some will say. They unfortunately are right. Beer drinkers are price-sensitive beyond their appreciation of the genre.

Our wine-loving brethren have no problem distinguishing between the generic jug wine, the low-end and mid-level varietal and the high-end to super-premium specialty wine. Our educated and knowledgeable beer lover has a real problem with beer purchases that exceed a certain preconceived “beer” price level. This is unfortunate and is causing our industry a great deal of harm as too many labels compete for sales by cutting prices, leaving little margin for survival.

The wine enthusiast will gladly pop $8 to $10 a bottle for midweek meals. A $15 to $25 bottle for weekend dining is not unusual. The beer lover, on the other hand, often balks at a “sixer” of anything that exceeds the usual discount price level, going the extra measure for an exotic English or Belgian ale for special occasions. Even then, the most one might pay is $7 to $9 dollars a 750 ml bottle or a little more for a six-pack of something truly sublime. Beer lovers are spoiled.

Most knowledgeable beer fans have some homebrewing background and know what it costs to make a bottle of beer. To apply that notion to commercial microbrewed beer is misguided and foolish. A great home cook might say, “I know what it costs to make a great dinner for four. How can that restaurant charge $30 a person?” Try owning a restaurant and running it six nights a week.

Our industry needs knowledgeable enthusiasts willing to put their educated palates on the line and spend the extra money to support the breweries they love. Without them, the industry will degenerate to a “generic” level of brewing targeting a lowest-common-denominator beer that will be as unfulfilling to the maker as it is to the consumer. Consider that a $6.99 six-pack yields 72 ounces of glorious nectar (10 cents an ounce). An $8 bottle of wine yields 24 ounces, or 33 cents per ounce. Do the math.

Support your local brewery while you still have the opportunity. The consequences of failure in our industry are much too bleak to contemplate.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Oct/Nov 1998)

Dear Editor:
For the last few days I felt really strange, like something was missing from my life. I was restless, uneasy, out-of-sorts. Then, while attending to business in my favorite local brewpub, The Fishtail, in Olympia, Washington, I realized what was wrong. There on the counter was the latest issue of the Celebrator Beer News. That was it! I hadn't gotten my latest copy in the mail!!! With great relief I pored through the pages, enjoying every article, reading every advertisement, checking out the news. It felt great. Then, it struck me (Whap!), had my subscription run out? Why didn't I get a notice? Depression struck again. Can you help me in my time of need?

Respectfully,
Uncle Steve Hancock
Auburn, WA

Dear Uncle Steve:
You betcha! Have your credit card in hand and call 1-800-430-BEER. Offering help in a time of need is our specialty! Glad to be of service. We live for such moments! —Ed.

Dear Editor:
The study you refer to in the August/September editorial was not definitive and did NOT report “no cancer risk” from secondhand smoke. It said that the link was not at the 95% certainty level.

Please look at the information at ash.org to see the non-tobacco company interpretation of the MANY studies showing the increased risk of cancer and heart problems from secondhand smoke.

Cheers,
Roger ????
Someplace, CO

Dear Roger:
Thanks so much for the information on secondhand smoke. Our point was perhaps overstated in our desire to hold the California law up to ridicule. It seems the tobacco companies are understating the data as much as the anti-tobacco zealots are overstating it. —Ed.

Dear Editor:
I enjoyed the photo of the heir to your throne in the last issue. (See Thomas Earl Dalldorf III, or Tre, in the Celebrator's August/September 1998 issue, page 3.) I look forward to his editorial changes (“More trucks and airplanes!”). See you in Denver (I hope).

Cheers,
Hank Stewart
New York, NY

Dear Hank:
The new regime of the younger generation could prove problematical if he makes good on his threat to cut back on photos of the publisher (and editor! —Ed.) More trucks and airplanes would be nice, however. —EdIII.

August/September 1998
California, Land of Fruits and Nuts — But No Smoking, Please!

 
Sun-drenched California, blessed with mountains, beaches, valleys and vastness, is choking on its own abundance. Wracked with racial tension, constipated with its own traffic, wallowing in its effusive effluence, and teetering on the economic abyss of boom and bust, its Legislatures chose to focus their energies on... smoking in bars.

Last March, when the definitive study on passive smoking sponsored by the World Health Organization reported no cancer risk at all from second hand smoke, nothing was done to correct the legislative quagmire created by California’s smoking ban. The crusade for abstinence fought by a coalition of health advocates and neo-prohibitionists (few of whom frequent bars) had been so profound as to negate any possible findings to the contrary. An abstract notion of the “public good” ran rough-shod over individual rights.

Please remember, Celebrator Beer News was among the first to congratulate pubs and brewpubs (like Lyon’s Brewery of Dublin) which voluntarily chose to go non-smoking years ago in the interest of a heightened appreciation of good beer and food. That, of course, was their choice — and we applauded their philosophy and courage. It is hard to exhibit courage, however, when choice is sublimated by legislative mandate.

The consequences of this statewide action designed to “save us from ourselves” is just now being felt. The neo-prohibitionists (tobacco AND alcohol) are euphoric in their successes. On Wednesday, July 15, one of our industry’s model brewpubs closed for good. Barley & Hopps in San Mateo, CA, was shuttered, unable to sustain the enormous success of its early years as a great restaurant, superb maker of beer, Blues Club of enormous importance (ask John Lee Hooker) and a cigar and single-malt emporium of unique proportions. Some staff members admit that they never recovered from the anti-smoking ordinance.

We will miss you, Barley & Hopps, even if you couldn’t spell “hops” correctly. And we will continue to wonder at the perverse priorities that made you the target of others’ misguided crusade.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Aug/Sep 1998)

Dear Editor:
I recently took my wife to San Luis Obispo for the weekend to enjoy the summer beach weather. During our stay, we visited a local bar where I came across a copy of the Celebrator Beer News June/July 1998 issue. I was impressed with all of the outstanding information and listings of different pubs. I noticed that I had patronized several of your listings in California as well as out of state.

While reading this issue, I noticed a micro-brewery called Indian Wells Brewery located in Inyokern, CA. I had driven through this small community several times on my way to Mammoth Lakes, CA and decided to stop on my next trip.

Well, last weekend, I was driving northbound on Highway 14 and stopped at this brewery. I was amazed at the quality and selection of beers at the Indian Wells Lodge. I really enjoyed the “Mojave Red” as I felt it is one of the finest beers I’ve ever had. My wife and I wanted to thank your staff for introducing us to our new favorite weekend watering hole.

Sincerely,
Michael Scott
Riverside, CA

Dear Michael:
Glad the Celebrator could be of service in introducing you to your new favorite brewery! Keep reading and traveling!!! —Ed.

Dear Editor:
Just wanted to clarify an inaccuracy in your June/July issue. In the Celebrator Tasting Panel Report on page 66, under the review of Wolaver’s Organic Pale Ale, it was noted that Wolaver’s is a “contract brewed beer” produced by North Coast Brewing company.

Please allow me to explain industry terms. A contract brewed beer is an arrangement whereas one company contracts a brewery to produce their beer. Although the specifics of this arrangement vary greatly, the two parties are distinct and separate entities. The brewing is done on a contract basis only and can be terminated by either party within terms of the contract.

“Partnership brewing” is an arrangement between two companies in which there is shared equity. The brewing company has an ownership equity interest in the brand, therefore creating a long term, permanent relationship.

Partnership brewing offers many distinct advantages to both parties as well as to the consumer. Although partnership brewing is not new to the beer industry, it has not, to my knowledge, previously been implemented in the craft segment. Wolaver’s Organic Ales are in fact brewed in partnership with North Coast Brewing company.

As always, Cheers!
Tom McCormick
Panorama Brewing Company
Via email

Dear Tom:
Thanks for setting us straight on these terms. —Ed.

Dear Editor:
With great joy have I noticed that recent issues of Celebrator have come fast on-line. Gone are the 3-6 months delays between the print and bit versions. Thank you very much. This really helps me to follow “the scene” on the west coast.

Esa Karell
Helsinki, Finland

Dear Esa:
We have to thank Diana Thetford and Bill Roark of the Celebrator staff for staying on top of the web page HTML formatting and the Real Beer Page folks for making it look so good! —Ed. (Pfft... Whatever, Tom! — Adare, current and future Celebrator web destroyer... uh, designer!)

Dear Editor:
On a recent business trip to the United Ariline Maintenance Base in Indianapolis, IN, I discovered that the company store sold homebrew kits! Rock on!! Lagunitas IPA rules!

Best regards,
Tony Miller
Seattle, WA

Dear Tony:
So, does the company store that sells homebrew kits have the Celebrator Beer News? You have your assignment. —Ed.

June/July 1998
The New Beer Snobs

 
It's over! We're done for. The Wall Street Journal has found out about us. We're "Beer Snobs". We actually pay attention to what we are drinking. We gaze at it longingly, knowingly, appraising its color, relative clarity and effervescence. We smell its aroma (something that is hard to do if you only drink it out of the bottle like normal people). We savor the flavor as we consider the complexities of malt and hops and the intricacies of the cultivation of yeast. We pay attention to beer! Obviously, we are snobs!

Or, some entry-level reporter for the Wall Street Journal has spent a little time with her friends in a bar and was bemused by the attention some of them paid to their beer. And then somehow got an editor to play her "story" on the front page!
If you didn't see it, the esteemed Wall Street Journal had a front page story on May 25th that skewered what the reporter called, "The New Beer Snobs". This article was a new low in shoddy reporting and superficial journalistic research.

The Celebrator Beer News sent the following Letter to the Editor.

April 28, 1998

To: Wall Street Journal

Editor:

Your front page story on "The New Beer Snobs" by Nancy Keates missed the malty mark by a mile! The Journal's usual standard for accuracy and objectivity was embarrassingly absent in this ill-considered piece.

There is no "Celis White Luckenbach", beer fans do "sniff, swirl, taste" but NEVER "spit!", Lambic Framboise has been served in flutes for hundreds of years! No wonder a restaurateur wanted to serve it that way. Would Ms. Keates prefer a pint glass?

The Culinary Institute of America may have just discovered beer but the California Culinary Academy has had a beer program since the early days of the microbrewing era.

As to beer being a ≥"two-note samba", I'll leave Joshua Wesson to his unending parade of me-too Chardonnays in favor of a cornucopia of ales and lagers all made from the same four ingredients: malt, hops, water and yeast. To make a zinfandel you squish some zinfandel grapes. That's not terribly complex now, is it?

"Beer connoisseur" IS an oxymoron only because true "beer geeks" love and understand the object of their affection well enough not to obsess about it, making it too exclusive and unreachable for the unwashed masses (a point the Wine Spectator missed).

Who is this "unlikely breed of connoisseurs taking beer drinking to a new extreme?" Your reporter has confused "obsession" with ≥passion≤ and Portland, Ore., is passionate about its beer. Obsession is when a reporter uses anecdotal data and misinformation to further a preconceived attitude despite reams of historical beer literature to the contrary.

Monday must have been a slow news day, indeed.

Tom Dalldorf, publisher
Celebrator Beer News

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Jun/Jul 1998)

Dear Editor:
Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary. I've always been a big supporter of your ideas and your thoughts you have given us over the last years. Our brewing community should be proud and honored to call you "one of us."

From all of us in Austin, wishing yourself and your staff the very best.

Sincerely,
Pierre Celis
Celis Brewery
Austin, TX

Dear Pierre:
Many thanks for your kind words about our industry. They are most appreciated coming from you, a brewer who resurrected a style of beer previously lost to mankind. Congratulations to you on your 35 years in the brewing business and for bringing your fabulous beers to America! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Congratulations on the first 10 years! Just got a copy of the latest CBN and it looks outstanding, as usual. I really do enjoy reading CBN. It's very informative and always entertaining. I look forward to being informed and entertained for another 10 years!

Marty Nachel, author
Beer for Dummies

Dear Marty:
Wow! That's a great review coming from you. I'm still waiting for your next book, Beer Publishing for Dummies. — Ed.

Dear Editor:
A Desperate Plea for Help!!! Due to circumstances beyond our control, we will soon be embarking on a long and treacherous journey. We are leaving the Bay Area (which, as everyone knows, is the beer capitol of the solar system) and trudging down to purgatory (San Diego County). Now I'm sure there is a silver lining to this tale of woe. I just wish it would show itself!!!!

May main question for you folks, o' gurus of all that is good and right, is WHERE IN BACCHUS' NAME DO YOU DRINK DOWN THERE???!!??? Most of the "brewpubs" I've had the, ahem, pleasure of visiting are not exactly up to my speed.

Now I admit we haven't tried every dang beer in the Southland, but we have been to quite a few pubs down that away over the past few years. So what the heck is this infatuation with blond beer???? Insipid pale liquid masquerading as beer!!! And, groan, we just recently saw a brewpub, and quite famous one at that, that had, shudder, LIGHT BEER!!!! Sputter sputter cough choke!

What are a couple of beer-happy, vegetarian East Bayers to do???? Oh, please, you must help us!!! Somewhere down there is a pub with 150 beers aching to be savored. How about a brewpub where the patrons nor waitstaff scowl at you??!!!! Where is the local version of Toronado? Lagunitas? Triple Rock? San Andreas? Oh, please, help us.

In the interests of fair play and all that, I would like to exclaim cheers and fine tidings on Terrific Pacific in S.D. and the Ocean Avenue Brewery in Laguna! They made our journey that much more enjoyable!!!

On a last note, congrats on the 10th Anniversary!!!!!!!!! That was a great party at Pyramid. Oh, and you'll be hearing from our lawyers for sticking our mugs on the cover of the last issue! Hee, hee.

So long!!!!
fraggle and Carla
Oakland, CA
Soon to be of Vista, CA

Dear fraggle and Carla:
Check out our alehouse roundup in this issue and, in particular, Don Erickson's "Alehouse Safari in Southern California" article. There are some great beer places in the Southland and it's not as bleak as you may think. Was that you on the cover of our 10th anniversary issue? You owe US for that! —Ed.

April/May 1998
National .08% BAC is Bad Low and Bad Science

 
The President of the United States recently endorsed Federal Legislation that would criminalize anyone found driving with a 0.08 blood-alcohol concentrations (BAC) and withhold Federal Highway Funds to states that did not comply with the new BAC level. On hand at his press conference was a young mother whose daughter had recently been killed by a driver with a 0.08 BAC. Her tears were both tragic and compelling. We later learned that the male driver was in his early 20s and that the accident occurred at around 8:30 a.m. in the morning. There was no mention of the extraordinarily-high accident rate for people in his age group, why he was drinking so early or whether the 0.08 BAC was a contributory factor to the fatal accident. This incident became such a huge “media event” that these questions, as impolite as they may be, deserve further inquiry.

Science gives us precise, measurable and reproducible data we can use to formulate policy. The political arena, however, rarely uses the results of scientific inquiry to guide their deliberations. Rather, such data are used to substantiate preconceived beliefs. In this case, we know that drunk driving is bad and needs to be eliminated from our highways. Our problem is, at what point do social drinkers become impaired to the point of being “drunk drivers.” Where’s the data?

Does lowering permissible blood alcohol concentrations reduce accidents caused by drunk drivers? Verifiable data remain ambiguous partly because the data are skewed by the term “alcohol related,” which has nothing to do with drinking and driving. We do know that the average BAC for a driver in a fatal accident is 0.17. Lowering the BAC to 0.08 seems to have the same logic as lowering the speed limit to 55 mph to prevent accidents. More arrests, more disrespect for the law, and the problem (speeding, drunk driving) remains unresolved.

Some countries have zero-tolerance laws (again, flying in the face of science which shows that the body produces 0.01 to 0.03 BAC naturally) and a few have the death penalty for drunk driving. France’s tough 0.05 BAC law failed to save a young Princess’ life.

Who will benefit from 0.08? The 30 states that capitulate to Federal blackmail and lower their laws to 0.08 BAC will get their highway funds, the President will have a popular issue to diffuse attention from his scandal-ridden administration, and vested interest (lawyers, tow truck operators, bail bondsmen, etc.) will have newfound wealth from our criminalizing a new strata of society. Will fewer people die at the hands of drunk drivers? Since the vast majority are already covered by existing law, it is doubtful.

The U.S. Senate has already endorsed the new law. (To oppose it, given how politically charged this issue is, could be viewed as an endorsement of drunk driving.) The House of Representatives will consider it next. Your voice needs to be heard.

We changed the absurd 55mph law. It’s time we went back at least to 0.10 BAC for criminalization — at least until such time as scientifically-verifiable evidence compels us to do otherwise.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Apr/May 1998)

Dear Editor:
Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary. I think being able to do what you love and be successful at it is one of life’s greatest possible achievements. Your success is truly inspirational. Keep up the good work. See you in Atlanta? Baltimore?

Godspeed,
Hank Stewart
New York, NY

Dear Hank:
Thanks for your kind words. As our “prize winning” writer, we expect you to keep up the good work too! —Ed.

Dear Editor:
When my good friend Melora Janisch first started working for you she mailed me one of your magazines. Today I am looking at the 10th Anniversary issue with awe! The front cover has more colours than that other wonder of nature, the rainbow in the sky. Congratulations over and over again for a job well done!

Also, many thanks to Georgia Weathers for her wonderful review of my latest book Son of a Brewer (CBN, Feb/Mar 98). She pointed out that Hitler was a vegetarian, which I didn’t know. But then I wasn’t present when he consumed his famous meal in our brewery’s cafeteria. I also forgot to mention that he was always accompanied by his personal chef who tasted his food before he ate it. Mea culpa, nobody is perfect. It was difficult for me to recall exactly what happened 60 years ago!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my book and please ask Melora to send me a short fax, even only to say hello!

Cheers,
A. DeClercq
Woodbridge, Ontario

Dear A. DeClercq:
How kind of you to write on the occasion of our 10th Anniversary. We continue to view that wonderful photo of you holding a keg over your head (now made famous by Miller Brewing) with awe! Melora has been a wonderful addition to our publishing family and is copyediting this very piece. She says hello and she'll write very soon. We would be delighted to have more input from you on the beer scene and our progress when you have the time. —Ed.

Dear Editor:
A Very Happy 10 Years to All at Celebrator! Wish we could attend the festivities Saturday. We (Michigan Beer Guide) are co-sponsoring a Mahalo Luau that day with breweriana and homebrew shop Things Beer at Michigan Brewing Company. I’ll offer up a toast to Celebrator’s 10 years at 9:00 p.m., 6:00 your time.

Okole Maluna... (Bottoms up).
Rex and Mary Halfpenny
Michigan Beer Guide

Dear Editor:
Congratulations on your 10-year anniversary! Thanks for the invitation to your party. Sam just flew up to San Francisco for the barley wine tasting at Toronado's, so we will not be able to attend your party — but have some beer & fun, fun, fun!

Always
Marlene and Sam Samaniego
Stuffed Sandwich
San Gabriel, CA

Dear Marlene and Sam:
Great to hear from you. You provided us with an early oasis in Southern California for good beer. Bret and Julie would have loved to see you again. Get ready for our 15th! —Ed.

Dear Editor:
In your 10th Anniversary issue, Michael Jackson's "Glass of `88" article brought back some memories. There is a story behind that trip your readers might find interesting.

Back then, some friends and I would regularly pile into a car and go on "beer safari" to check out all the new breweries. In 1988, one of the "must stops" was Klaus Lange's Seacliff Cafe. Klaus's food was superb but his beer was the Holy Grail. Since he made it only in five-gallon batches, his Dutch Brown Ale was unavailable more often than not.

So for one of our beer safaris, I called Klaus and specifically asked if he would set aside a couple of bottles for us. Considering we were driving a few hundred miles to visit and that he had been out of his beer when we'd visited before, he agreed. Dinner at the Seacliff looked to be the highlight of our trip as we crowded into a car and headed north.

In San Jose, we started crossing paths with Bret Nickels and Michael Jackson. At every stop, we got there just before they did or vice versa. This continued for the rest of the afternoon. Finally, Bret's group headed for the East Bay while we headed for the Seacliff.

There, we enjoyed one of Klaus' great dinners. But we noticed that the Dutch Brown Ale hadn't accompanied the main course as we expected. Was it being saved for desert?

"No, " Klaus admitted. He had set aside his last bottles for us but somebody by the name of Nickels had claimed them to impress some "big shot" he was traveling with.

I never did taste that beer, Bret!

Donald Erickson
Belmont, CA

Dear Don:
We’d sue! —Ed.

Dear Editor:
My sincere congratulations to you and the rest of the staff... You have developed the Celebrator into a unique blend of fine entertainment and solid information on the industry. Many thanks for the first 10 years, and a toast to many decades more!

Na Zdravi!!
Stephan Weiler
Department of Economics
University of Colorado
Fort Collins, CO.

Dear Editor:
Congratulations on a great 10-year anniversary party! It was great to meet fellow industry brethren and take in a decade of stories, ales & lagers.

Best wishes,
Gary Fish
John Bryant
Deschutes Brewery
Bend Oregon

Dear Gary and John:
It was great that we could both celebrate our 10 years in the business together! —Ed.

Dear Editor:
It was great to meet you and other staff members at the Berkeley celebration. Lynn and I made the long trek from Bellingham, WA, because your paper has had such a profound impact on our lives. From my first copy of the Celebrator in 1989 (during an Air Force tour in Sacramento) to the day I sat down with your “Equipment Supplier” issue and called my current employer — Newlands, I have been inspired by your paper. As an editor, I’m sure you can appreciate that run-on sentence.

Sincerely,
Jay & Lynn Van Horn
Bellingham, WA

(Jay was a runner-up in this year’s Beer Drinker of the Year Competition, sponsored by Wynkoop Brewing in Denver, CO.)

Dear Jay & Lynn:
Thanks for being there and sharing your “life changing” moment with us! —Ed.

Dear Editor:
I’m about to begin my fourth week in Palau, where I’ve been blessed with the first and only job in the country’s first and only brewery. I left Hawaii without a work permit or contract, so I decided to leave everything else. I’ve now survived 21 days without my bike, my music, my brewing supplies, my favorite store-bought beers, or even my meager library on brewing. Today, though, an angel appeared.

The parent company’s U.S. consolidator came to visit and brought some pictures of beer-glass styles for us to consider. They turned out to be ads from the Celebrator, which, thankfully, was still intact.

He left it with me, and I spent an hour reminiscing over the ads for beer we have been lucky enough to find in the 50th State. Dreams of dark beers danced in my head, while memories of this year’s selection of winter brews Hawaii received made me homesick for that slightly less tropical paradise: at least you know when it’s winter there.

As I sit here, tasting the first batch of Red Rooster Draft, I realize my decision to drop out of the journalism program at UH to pursue a dream job at Hawaii’s original microbrewery (Ali’i) was, to say the very least, a life changer. I think, now, my parents finally know and understand.

Thank you for the colored print that reminded me what real beer looks like.

Thank you for the addresses of others I can write to and bother in hopes of replies.

Thank you for being available to the person who brought you to me.

Thank you for reading this far and putting up with this beer babble gone bad.

I’d love to hear from anyone, anyone, anyone personally, but I understand — a subscription will suffice. Palau, although its own country, still remains in U.S. postal zoning, so it’s like I’m right next door, postage-wise, but yeah, I know about that aging/maturing thing they do.

Anyone who personally replies: I’ll send ‘em some sort of proof the brewery exists, like a coaster or key chain or shirt or hat — in fact, I’ll match whatever’s sent to me. No, serious, honest I will, come visit even! Do a story, or I will... Trust me! What’ve you got to lose... 32¢... c’mon, I’m desperate!!! And, well, at this point, quite intoxicated on Red Rooster. Hey! the scuba diving’s great, and I’ll even buy lunch.

Patiently... Desperately... Waiting...
Greg Yount
Palau Brewing Co.
P.O. Box 280
Koror, Palau 96940

Dear Greg:
You really need to get out more. We sure hope our faithful readers will come to your rescue with a cornucopia of breweriana to fill your days in the Islands. —Ed.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (Feb/Mar 1998)

Dear Editor:
Having recently returned from an extensive tour of America, during which time I took the opportunity to visit as many microbreweries and brewpubs as was possible and having obtained a copy of your excellent publication, I feel that perhaps I should, as a purveyor of ales for over 25 years in the UK, offer to you an observation which I found rather puzzling to say the least.

Letters in the October/November issue relating to drink driving and my personal experiences in sampling many of the individual beers leave me with the impression that the majority of brewers and pubs are going to create for themselves legislative problems in the near future. Why are so many producing beers of what we in Europe would class as high gravity? In many establishments I found nothing under 4.5 percent. I drove my Budget rental car to each pub and became worried to death with regard to the consequences of my ILLEGAL activities. Two pints (even US pints) and I would have been breaking every drink driving law in Europe. I found the policy very irresponsible, not to mention commercial suicide.

Let us look at the policy in a little more depth and of course my opinions are not without experience. Strong beers do not sell in high volume, they are considered here as "Fighting Medicine" and cannot be consumed in quantity by the average person without him or her "Falling Over." A pub full of drunks is not an attractive pub to visit however much you have spent on the decor and equipment and, most importantly, you are not going to take many dollars from the customers during their time with you. Remember, lower gravity does not mean less flavour or an inferior product. Providing you know what you are doing.

I do admire the achievements which the craft-beer industry has attained in America during such a short period of time, and of course it will get even better. You are not monopolized by major brewers (Yet) and have the advantage over an overtaxed and tightly controlled individual operator in Europe. So please give my thoughts a little credibility, don’t be so egotistical with regard to gravity, it is a fine balancing act, sell the customer what is good for him not what you like best. So come on chaps, get it down to 3.5 percent, we have wonderful cool hand-pulled beers selling very well, in high volume.

Brewing beer is not too difficult but brewing beer which sells in high volumes is an art. Regulate yourself before Congress does it for you... I just know you'll sell more! You have created some wonderful beers, and I am sure they will continue to prosper and improve. I wish you all every success and a very good New Year.

David Roberts
The Cross Keys,
Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK

Dear David:
Thank you so much for your observations and concern for “high gravity” brewing. Our country is just now considering national regulations to bring the BAC permissible down to .08%. Your words may be prophetic for our industry. — Ed.

Dear Celebrator:
Had a friend come back from Portland with a free copy of the December/January issue. I'm still awaiting my subscription copy. Do I only have the US Post Office to thank? Or is there a problem if I haven’t received it by now? Did seem to have some problem with renewal this time, but finally got the last issue and thought everything was working again. I'm awaiting that GABF awards list. How am I supposed to know what I'm missing at the end of the road in north east Oregon. I'm only asking because I care!

Gary Court
Joseph, OR.

Dear Gary:
Thanks for caring! We shipped the December/January issue of Celebrator Beer News on November 25. Since I worked for the Post Office before taking on the publishing chores, I have an idea how the system works. It's a lot like lagering. Your Celebrator is being "aged" by the Post Office to soften and mellow its textures and complexities. Please let us know when you actually get your copy. — Ed.

Dear Editor:
I’ve been reading the Celebrator for seven years and have had a routine that I’ve been comfortable with. I survey the front page then go immediately to Hop Caen (Hop Vine). But in the past six months I’ve changed my order. Now I go front page and then straight to “Beer, Food & Cigars.” Sorry Hop, she [Monica Roseberry] is good! I think she could make aluminum siding sound stimulating... Monica, ask for a raise.

Nancy Escalante
Willow Glen, CA

Dear Nancy:
High praise indeed for our “Cigar Goddess.” Alas, your words of commendation are a little late as Monica has resigned her post as Cigar Columnist. Please read her farewell piece in this issue. Seems the state of California has made public smoking impossible. In an effort to keep her on staff, we are launching a new publication: Celebrator Aluminum Siding News. Check it out! — Ed.

Dear Editor:
Thank you for the wonderful article on the New Zealand brewing scene (December 1997/January 1998 issue). Being an expatriate of Kiwi, it was nice to read about the home country.

I must, however, point out that the photo in the article was not The Shakespeare Tavern & Brewery in Auckland but the Dux De Lux brewery located in Christchurch on the South Island.

A book on New Zealand's breweries Beers Brewed in New Zealand written by Carol Caldwell is a good guide to take when touring the country.

Cheers mate!
Mark Phillips
Sacramento, CA

Dear Mark:
We’ll get a copy and forward it to the author (after we verify that the photo was correctly identified). Thanks for having a sharp eye, mate! — Ed.

 

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