Beer News

News by | Dec 2008 | Issue #23
Photo by Jordan Fischer

By Andy Crouch and Todd Alström

Miller Beer Caves

The Miller Brewing Company, now operating as part of the joint venture MillerCoors, has recently completed a million dollar makeover of its visitors’ center on State Street in downtown Milwaukee, Wis. Changes to the center, which receives more than 115,000 visitors every year, include a historical timeline with accompanying photos, and a new bar and sampling station, which includes offerings from its Leinenkugel Brewing Company. Of greatest interest is the renovation and opening to the public of the historic Miller Caves. Created in 1849 to cool beer prior to its public release, the caves are located 60 feet below the city streets. As part of the tour, the ghost of founder Frederick Miller will appear from a detailed and colorful wall mural of a German beer hall scene and explain the history and significance of the caves in the production process. The one-hour tour is free and available daily, except on Sundays. [AC]

Carlsberg Threatens to Shut Down Tetley Brewery, Loyal Consumers Act

After over 180 years of brewing, Carlsberg UK has announced that it will close its Tetley Brewery in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. Founded in 1822 and made famous by its Tetley’s English Ale, Original Bitter and monocled-huntsman logo, Carlsberg plans to run down production for the next two years, at which point the land would be valued at an estimated £100m. Production would move to Carlsberg’s Northampton facility (a move from the North to the South—a big deal for beer-loving Brits), but at a loss of 170 jobs and an iconic brand in Leeds. “Unfortunately, in this environment, we can no longer justify running two major breweries in the UK,” Nick Webb, Carlsberg UK’s supply chain director, told UK reporters.

However, the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP), with great opposition, has launched a “Keep Tetley’s a Yorkshire Pint” campaign that has gained national attention and support from major celebrities and politicians. One Leeds member of Parliament even tabled a motion in the House of Commons, citing: “The Tetley’s Brewery has been brewing beer in Leeds for over 186 years. To hear that it is now going to close its doors after so many years is a huge blow for the city, and for those who work at the brewery. [This House] believes that if Tetley’s is not brewed in Leeds, using Leeds water, it cannot claim to be a Leeds beer.”

YEP’s plea has also been heard by Carlsberg executives, who vowed to explore opportunities for brewing in Yorkshire, but remained vague as to whether or not brewing would continue in Leeds. [TA]

Goose Island Clybourn Honks On

Back in April 2008, it was reported that the brewpub that launched in 1988 and put craft beer on the map in Chicago would close at the end of the year. Goose Island Brewing Company’s lease was up at their N. Clybourn Avenue location and the landlord (CRM Properties Group) wanted to significantly jack the rent up due to the popularity of the neighborhood.

However, the Chicago Tribune recently reported that Goose Island has reached a verbal compromise with the landlord that will allow the pioneering brewpub to remain open for three to five years. Goose Island founder John Hall told reporters, “I’m thrilled. They called me last week and said, ‘We want to try to do a deal.’ We compromised in a week on something we couldn’t do for a long time.” It’s been speculated that CRM’s change of heart is thanks to the current economic downturn.

One BeerAdvocate site member commented in the forums, “Hell yes! I thought the property group was nuts to kick someone out in this climate. They apparently have grown a brain. Woo hoo!” [TA]

Cancer-Fighting Beer?

Looking to build upon the popular success of the so-called “French Paradox,” enterprising students at Rice University in Houston, Texas, are in the process of developing a beer that will have health benefits, possibly including cancer-fighting qualities. Entered as part of the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, the students will attempt to design a fermented beverage, termed “BioBeer,” to reproduce the health effects of red wine. Discovered in red wine in the 1990s, the compound resveratrol has been linked to cardiovascular health benefits in mice. By the year’s end, the students hope to modify yeast donated by the local Saint Arnold’s Brewery to produce a reaction that converts a fermentation byproduct into resveratrol. The lucky recipients of the first batch will be fruit flies, on which the students will perform tests to determine whether their longevity can be increased. If the homebrew-style experiment is successful, there are no plans yet to publicly release the beer. [AC]

Beer Gets Brewer Popped

A California graduate student avoided jail time with a plea bargain to charges of brewing beer with poppy seeds. Chad Renzelman said he used a “handful” of the dried pods to flavor a batch of his beer, after having previously extracted opium from the poppies and converting it to morphine. The organic chemistry student at the University of California at Santa Cruz pleaded no contest to criminal charges of possessing heroin after police officers found a morphine-enhanced beer in his garage. Renzelman said the beer was for his own consumption and he didn’t know his actions violated the law. The use of poppy seeds is said to give liquids they’re seeped in a distinctly bitter flavor and can, if used in very high doses, create some hallucinogenic effects in its consumers. Federal regulatory agencies have banned the use of controlled substances, including hemp seeds, in the production of alcoholic beverages, including beer. [AC]