This is the Beer Yard news page, with brewing news from the Philadelphia area and beyond.
- September 29, 2003 - Penn Brewery Secures Investment Capital for Growth & Expansion
- Expect to see more Penn Brewing labels on distributors' shelves and tap handles at your favorite watering hole in the future.
The Pittsburgh brewery, which was founded by Tom and Mary Beth Pastorius in 1986, has secured investment capital from Birchmere Capital, L.P. and will expand the brewing and distribution of its award-winning craft beers. The brewery produces and distributes Penn Pilsner, Penn Gold, Penn Dark, Penn Weizen, Penn Oktoberfest, Penn Marzen, St. Nikolaus Bock and Crew Lager in bottles and draft, plus two draft-only products, Kaiser Pils and Maibock. Penn Pilsner was awarded the Gold Medal by the Beverage Testing Institute and Penn Dark won the World Beer Cup 2000 Gold Medal and was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival this past weekend.
"Mary Beth and I have worked very hard at this business for 17 years and we've enjoyed great success and customer loyalty," says Tom Pastorius, "but to grow the company to the next level will require more capital. We see this investment of Birchmere Capital as the next logical step in our plan to expand the business to meet current and future demand for our products." According to sources, Penn plans to triple annual capacity to 30,000 bbls.
One of the principals at Birchmere is Jack Isherwood, who held previous positions as President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, President of Pittsburgh Food and Beverage, and COO of the G. Heileman Brewing Company.
- September 28, 2003 - Iron Hill Wins Two Gold Medals and Two Bronze at Great American Beer Festival
- Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant won four medals at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival in Denver this weekend, leading a 14-medal performance by area breweries.
Iron Hill won a Gold Medal for Lambic De Hill (Media) and Russian Imperial Stout (Newark) and a Bronze Medals for Dunkel (West Chester) and Tripel (Media). In 2002, Iron Hill won two Bronze Medals for its Tripel and Pig Iron Porter.
Stewart's Brewing Company won the area's other Gold Medal, for Stewart's Barleywine, and added a Bronze for Stewart's Oktoberfest.
Nodding Head Brewing Company's Brandon Greenwood and McKenzie Brew House's Scott Morrision each won two medals. Nodding Head took Silver for its 60 Shilling Scotch Ale and Berliner Weisse; in 2002, the Philadelphia brewery won a Gold and a Bronze for its Grog and BoHo Pilsner. McKenzie garnered two Bronze, for Trappist Pale Ale and Saison; these were the first medals for Morrison.
Ortlieb's Brewery and Grille took a Silver Medal for Ortlieb's Select 69 Lager, marking the return of brewer Bill Moore to the winner's circle. He won several medals in the early 1990s while head brewer at Stoudt Brewing. Penn Brewing of Pittsburgh won a Silver for Penn Dark. Last year, Penn won Bronze for its Weizen.
Sly Fox Brewhouse and Eatery and Brian O'Reilly won the Bronze for Pikeland Pils. O'Reilly won a Gold for an earlier version of this pilsner in 2000. Last year, he also won a Bronze for French Creek Helles.
The Lion Brewery won a Bronze for Stegmaier Gold Medal Lager.
A complete list of all GABF winners can be found at http://www.beertown.org/events/gabf/03winners.htm
- September 23, 2003 - Interbrew Acquires Spaten, Increases Presence in Germany
Belgian brewing giant Interbrew added Munich's Spaten Brewery (Gabriel Sedlmayr Spaten Franziskaner Bräu) to its growing collection of German breweries last week, in a deal deal which also includes Munich's Löwenbräu, part of Spaten, as well as Stuttgart's Dinkelacker. Interbrew now has the largest brewery group in Germany and an 11% share of the German beer market.
Interbrew first became a player in Germany in 2001 when it purchased Beck's and Diebels. It has since taken over in Hannover's Gilde Brauerei AG, a deal that included Hasseröder Brauerei GmbH of Wernigerode and Hofbrauhaus Wolters AG in Braunschweig.
Because of the number of breweries in Germany (over 1200), and regional brewing restrictions and traditions, the wave of conglomeration that has swept the industry in recent years had not been strongly felt in that country, but that is clearly beginning to change. Observers are already wondering of Interbrew's move might lead Heineken to increase its 50 percent share of Paulaner.
Analysts note that adding Spaten's beers Interbrew's existing holdings will give it representation in six key segments of the German beer market: national premium lagers, national specialties, national core lagers, regional core lagers, regional specialties, and "beer-mix," (malternatives).
"[Germany] is Europe's largest beer market and it is consolidating," an Interbrew press release said. "Interbrew's aim is to be market leader - in particular market value leader with a balanced portfolio of outstanding brands."
Interbrew's acquisition will include spinning off Spaten from Spaten-Franziskaner into a separate legal entity which, along with Löwenbräu, will be sold to Interbrew Deutschland in exchange for a 13 per cent share in the enlargedunit of the Belgian group. The Dinkelacker-Schwaben Bräu business will become a subsidiary of Interbrew's Brauerei Beck & Co.
- September 20, 2003 - Sly Fox Buys Dogfish Head Bottling Line
- Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery of Phoenixville has purchased a 16-valve, Prospero bottling line from Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, Delaware.
"This line is exactly what we were looking for to use in our new brewery," said Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly. "It's set up for 750ml bottles and includes a champagne style corker and cager. Since our intention is to bottle only our bigger and stronger beers, it's perfect for us. We already have a labeler from the bottling line we acquired the 20-barrel brewhouse of the former Hoster Brewing Company Ohio in January which we will tie in to this system when we set it up."
Sly Fox has still not announced where its new brewery will be located, but informed rumors place the site in Oaks. Sly Fox withdrew from negotiations to put the brewery in the historic Foundry building in Phoenixville last month citing, among other reasons, the inability to accommodate a bottling line in the proposed facility.
- September 17, 2003 - Standard Tap Partners Open New Fishtown Pub
- Johnny Brenda's, the long-awaited refurbishment project by William Reed and Paul Kimport of The Standard Tap, opened on September 18 at 1202 Frankford Avenue in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia.
The pub opened its doors even though all work is not yet completed, Reed admitted. "Nobody believed it was possible," he laughed, "including our contractors, but I got sick and tired of waiting so we opened. I'm stubborn that way."
When completed, Johnny Brenda's, which retains the name given it by the original owner, boxer John Imbrenda, nearly 40 years ago, will have 12 draft lines and three handpumps, Reed said. "Our approach will be the same as it is at the Tap. We'll serve only draft beers and only local beers, except we will stretch the concept a bit to add a few lighter beers to the mix just for fun. And we'll have a less extensive, more pub-friendly menu than at the Tap, but with the same quality and attention to detail."
For the first week or so, while the new draft system is being installed, Johnny Brenda's will offer only three cask-conditioned beers, on the handpumps: Yards ESA, Yard's Love Stout and Sly Fox ESB. "We will always be featuring Yards on at least one of the pumps," Reed said, "since you can practically hit their brewery with a stone from here."
The kitchen is not yet be fully operative either, until a new hood arrives and is installed. But Reed noted that "the juke box is in, the pool table is here and the place is looking good."
Although Fishtown and Northern Liberties, home to Standard Tap, are distinctly different old Philadelphia communities, Johnny Brenda's is only a short walk or drive from the Tap. "Tell anyone looking for us that we're at the corner of Frankford and Girard," said Reed, "and if they're using Map Quest or some other computer map program, the zip code is 19125."
Johnny Brenda's telephone number is 215-739-9684.
- September 15, 2003 - Legacy Beer Company Will Take Over Former Neversink Plant
- Scott Baver and Dave Gemmell, who revived Pretzel City Brewing as Legacy Beer Company this summer and have been producing Steamhorse Lager at Ortlieb's Brewery & Grill in Pottstown for the last several months, have signed a lease agreement to operate Legacy at the former Neversink Brewery facility on Canal Street in Reading.
Gemmell said that there is much work to be done to ready the plant to their specifications and that ATF and LCB approvals still must be obtained. If everything goes as planned, he said, the first beers should appear in early November. Legacy will brew Steamhorse Lager and its one-time cult favorite Duke of Ale to begin with. A "winter style" beer is in discussion as well.
The beer brewed at Ortlieb's Sunnybrook plant was available on draft there and sold to accounts in Berks County only, according to Baver. "We were selling all the beer we could make and already beginning to run up against the limits of the production capabilities they could offer us," he said. "Dave and I were actually talking about where we might move our operations on the very afternoon Bill McShane (who owns the Canal Street facility) called us."
The plan is to grow slowly beyond the established Berks County market, Baver noted. "I'll be talking to a distributor in the Lehigh Valley in the next week or so about moving into that area. There are also accounts in Philadelphia and Montgomery County who have been asking for the beer. I expect to be able to talk with them before the year is out." He said that Legacy brews would remain draft only for now but that the addition of a bottling line is anticipated "in about eight months or so."
The Legacy agreement is the latest twist in the game of musical chairs which has been played at the Canal Street plant. It apparently tolls the death knell for struggling Fancy Pants Brewing, the site's most recent occupant. Brewer Joe Beddia left Fancy Pants last spring to take a job at Yards Brewery in Philadelphia and the brewery never seemed to recover. Tom Rupp, who had been the first Neversink brewer (prior to Jon Zangwill, now the head brewer at Flying Fish in New Jersey), purchased the original brewhouse when Pretzel City folded in 1999 and announced he would be creating a brewery of his own. That too appears to have fallen by the wayside.
- September 14, 2003 - Fuller's, Erdinger, Veltins Aim at U.S. Market
- Fuller's and Erdinger, familiar names to American imported beer fans, and Veltins, a new name to most, will re-emerge in the U.S. market under the guidance of Distinguished Brands International, a new importing company developed by former employees of the now defunct Paulaner North America, an import firm absorbed by Fischer Beverage, the specialty beer division of Heineken USA.
DBI is the brainchild of Jeff Coleman, former head man at Paulaner North America, and he has already added New Orleans' Dixie Brewing Company to his portfolio and is in negotiations with at least one other well-known German brewery. The company is headquartered in Denver.
Erdinger WeiBbrau is a family owned brewery, established in 1886, which brews only wheat beers. It is the world's most popular wheat beer brewer, available in 64 countries around the world. The brewery is located in Erding, near Munich, and holds about 20% of the German wheat beer market. The newest Erdinger beer is Champ, a beer designed to be drunk from the bottle which has less alcohol than other Erdinger brews (Hefeweizen, Dunkel, Kristall and Pikantus Bock). It features a unique twist-opener built into the bottle of the bottle. Erdinger also produces an alcohol free beer.
Brauerei C. & A. Veltins, the second German brewery in the DBI lineup, was founded in 1824 in Gevenstein, near Dusseldorf. Veltins brews only pilsners, stressing the ideal quality of the natural spring waters in the Sauerland section where it is located, and is the fifth ranked pilsner brewery in Germany. It has had limited exposure in the U.S. to date. The brewery is enjoying significant success in its homeland with its V+ line of mixed beer drinks (V+Cola, V+Lemon), especially in the youth market, and hopes to bring those to the U.S. as well.
Fuller, Smith & Turner is, along with Young's, one of the two remaining family-owned London breweries and was founded in 1845 on a site where beer has been brewed for over 300 years. Its Griffin Brewery in Chiswick produces some of the most familiar British imports in the U.S. market: London Pride, ESB, London Porter, 1845 (first brewed in 1995 to celebrate the brewery's 150th anniversary) and Vintage Ale. Brewers at Fuller's have high hopes of gaining that same sort of respect for their Organic Honey Dew, a light golden ale. The beer is not yet scheduled for the U.S. market.
See "Stores Notes" for more about German imports