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HEARD IT THROUGH THE HOPVINE
Neoprohibitionists have no problem disseminating propaganda of dubious merit, but a recent report scores big-time on the silly scale. The “study” from storied Johns Hopkins University (conducted by David Jernigan) appears to show that Budweiser is the drink “most commonly linked to emergency room visits.” According to the study, “Budweiser has 9.1 percent of the national beer market but represents approximately 15 percent of the E.R. ‘market,’” say the news reports. After Bud, it was Steel Reserve Malt Liquor, Colt 45 malt liquor, Bud Ice (another malt liquor), Bud Light and a discount-priced vodka called Barton’s. According to NBCNews.com, “In all, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and another malt liquor, King Cobra, account for only 2.4 percent of the U.S. beer market but accounted for 46 percent of the beer consumed by E.R. patients.” The conclusion was that “Overall, malt liquor and lower-alcohol beer dominated consumption, but vodka, gin, brandy and cognac were overrepresented, too.” Despite all the attention and scary statistics and headlines (Alcohol Justice gleefully tweeted the headline “Budweiser to Blame for Most Alcohol-Related E.R. Visits”), the “study,” if indeed we can apply that term, itself is suspect. It was based on a survey of 105 people at one inner-city Baltimore E.R. in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Looks like more than the data got skewed…

Welcome craft beer’s first billionaire! (And it’s NOT Paul Shipman.) When Harvard-educated Jim Koch founded Boston Beer Company in 1985, his business plan called for him to be making about $60K in a few years (a fraction of his prior corporate earnings). His ability to get the by-now-iconic Samuel Adams brands across America is legendary and has proven most lucrative. Koch then incorporated and offered shares in BBC for $20. They now command over $230 a share, having skyrocketed since mid-2009. This has resulted in Koch’s net worth bubbling above the $1 billion mark, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. “Having watched my stock price go up and down and up, it seems almost whimsical,” Koch, 64, told Bloomberg in a telephone interview. “I remind people getting rich is life’s great booby prize. Any normal person would much rather be happy than rich. Because this was something started out of passion, I’ve been able to sustain 30 years of growing the business with all the ups and downs.” I guess we’d call that both happy and rich…

Beer-drinking contest winner dies of alcohol poisoning. This cautionary tale happened in Spain’s Murcia region when contest winner Joaquin Alcaraz Garcia died after consuming roughly 1.6 gallons (200 ounces) of beer in 20 minutes. He was declared the victor, raised the trophy overhead, and began to vomit. Witness Santiago Garcia was one of the attendees who tried to help the new champ. “He vomited a lot, but I sat with him for 10 minutes, and he was sleeping and snoring away,” municipality Vice President Pedro Rodríguez told a local newspaper. But he wasn’t merely sleeping, as Rodríguez assumed. Emergency medical personnel were called to the scene and took Garcia to the hospital, but he died shortly thereafter. Despite the tragedy, the town’s mayor, José Manuel Gracia, defended the contest, noting that the official cause of death was not yet determined and that the contest had a “long tradition” in the community. Even so, further festivities have been halted, and local authorities have called for a three-day period of mourning in honor of the champ. Let’s all raise a glass… oh, wait…

Hello Kitty Beer? Hello Kitty, the insufferably cute cartoon cat, is now being used to market beer in Asia. Consumers in China and Taiwan can now pick from several fruit-flavored brews (peach, lemon-lime, passion fruit, banana) sporting the moonfaced cat on the can. With about half the alcohol content of a Tsingtao, Hello Kitty beer is a pussycat. But as one observer put it, “They’re so ridiculously smooth and tasty that one can barely tell they’re drinking beer. It’s almost like drinking fruit juice, even if the cans do say ‘beer.’” And it’s not just for kids! Hello Kitty has plenty of adult fans, especially across Asia (we are, after all, talking about a 40-year-old icon). This seems more like a silly but smart branding ploy to reach China’s great untapped booze market: women. Reliable figures on drinking habits in China are apparently tough to come by. Only 15 percent of women considered themselves drinkers, compared to 55.6 percent of males, according to another national survey. So it’s reasonable to suspect that beer might have an image problem with some Chinese women. If so, how could a beer company cater to them? A low-alcohol, sweet beverage seems like a good start…

Twitter is now being used by big brewers to make them sound interesting. Check out this tweet from MillerCoors: “See details/buy tix: http://atmlb.com/168IDMW pic.twitter.com/Is3SaMdzoH.” What’s next? Farm-to-table presented by Monsanto?
 

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