The Beer List

June 1, 2006
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The Beer List
Elizabeth Fuhrman
Managing Editor
Wine belongs to the so-called elite consumer, and has become a beverage category ingrained in the consumer’s psyche as refined. Wine represents premium and a category in which consumers are willing to trade up, report industry sources.
But wine isn’t the only category figuring out how to up-sell its image. Many newer restaurants have expanded beer lists with descriptions such as “a complex flavor featuring dark chocolate, sour cherry and a hint of oak.” Is that a beer or wine?
Many restaurants also are offering beer tastings and pairings, even beer and dessert pairings, that consumers are flocking to because of either their preference for beer or because a beer tasting offers a break from the norm.
One establishment where beer business is booming, Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro in Chicago, offers a 50-plus beer list with beers from Ireland, Britain, Belgium and various American microbreweries, including brands such as Old Engine Oil, SkullSplitter and Delirium Tremens. When the new restaurant opened last October, beer accounted for 30 percent of its alcohol sales and today it is closer to 50 percent, the Irish bistro reports in a Crain’s Chicago Business article. Obscure beers favor well, but middle-of-the-road brews do not. The restaurant opened with one readily available craft brew on tap, but soon replaced it with Goose Island’s Matilda, because of its comparatively odd flavor notes.
With most beers costing less than a glass of wine and the reserved-for-upper-echelon stigma not applying, beer still offers a sophisticated flavor profile and interesting brands that appeal to refined consumers to drink on-premise or to give as a gift. Whether it is because of taste or image, the beer category has the chance to differentiate itself this way. Through ingredients, flavor profiles, branding, marketing and packaging every beer is extremely intricate, and brewers and retailers should make sure consumers know as much.Cheer-ing inthe Carolinas
Cheerwine has launched a “Random Acts of Sampling” tour through the Carolinas this summer. Carolina Beverage Corp. calls the tour an “un-marketing campaign,” in which two teams of Cheerwine recruits will hand out chilled free samples throughout the Carolinas without an official schedule or planned events. Armed with coolers, cases of product, a map, a laptop and mobile phones the teams will follow regional itineraries to distribute Cheerwine throughout the summer. The team’s daily activities — and next destination — can be tracked at cheerwine.com.
Malibu’s serious summer
Malibu rum is encouraging consumers to have a Seriously Easy Going Summer. The program includes a summer ad campaign as well as tasting events for its Malibu Coconut, Pineapple, Mango and Passion Fruit flavored rums. The brand also will run a “Taste the Island Life” consumer sweepstakes to win a trip to Barbados, the home of Malibu rum, which is imported by Pernod Ricard USA.
1100 winners
The official spirit of racing, Jim Beam, awarded one lucky winner and friends an opportunity not even offered to racecar drivers. Winner Philip Keeney of Mechanicsburg, Pa., and three guests attended both the Indy 500 in Indianapolis and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Race in Charlotte, N.C., on the same day. In order to attend both races, the party took a helicopter and two private jets to the tracks where they enjoyed V.I.P. status and met drivers.“Late Show’s” New Leaf
No Top 10 list here. “The Late Show with David Letterman” chose just one beverage for its official summer drink: New Leaf iced teas. Each summer a different beverage is chosen and the cane-juice- sweetened, flavored teas received the honors this year.
Finlandia says hola
Together with Cosmopolitan en Español, Finlandia launched its new vodka flavors at a party in Los Angeles. Celebrity guests included actor Nick Gonzalez and reality show star Jo De Le Rosa, who joined in the Vegas-style celebration where reggaeton artist R. Luna performed. Gonzalez hosted the event and mastered the poker tables where Finlandia’s newest flavors such as Wild Berries, Mango, Lime and Cranberry vodkas were served.
Guinness at home
Guinness has challenged consumers to design their Ultimate Guinness Home Bar for a chance to win one themselves. Through the end of July, fans can design a blueprint for a home bar on Guinness’ Web site. The winner will receive the Ultimate Guinness Home Bar with a three-keg cooling unit for serving Guinness Stout, Smithwick’s Ale and Harp Lager on draught, and accessories. Former NBA player and current sports analyst Bill Walton will judge entries to name a winner.
EFFEN cool car
Effen Vodka sponsored an Indy car at this year’s Indianapolis 500. The car’s graphics carry the monochromatic paint and graphics treatment that is on Effen vodka bottles. The car is part of the Kent Baker/Greg Beck team and was driven by Stephan Gregoire.

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