Beverage Bulletin September 2011

California Beverage Retailers Association

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 788-8120

Ron Ziff, Editor


September, 2011


This month's stories:


When only a cold beer will do

Beer Cocktails

Beer and Your Health
Foster's Brewing Sold

The Economy

Marketing News

Walgreens to sell Beer & Wine

How Natural is Natural?

Paper, Plastic, or Nothing?

2010 Wine Sales


New California Laws

2011 Wine Grape Harvest

Moonlight Wine Tastings

and as always: Tasting Notes and the Industry Calendar



Ken Burns TV mini-series on Prohibition airs on local PBS stations starting October 2. It is a total of 5 hours in 3 parts. Check your local listings for viewing times. Prohibition started January 17, 1920. It's over now, but still affects nearly everything we do in the alcoholic beverage industry.

When only a cold beer will do

Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama for saving 36 lives in Afganistan. His story and the ceremony are inspiring and can be seen by pasting this in your address bar:

What is particularly inspiring to us is that when he was told the President would be giving him this honor, he asked for what he really wanted; to have a beer with the President. His request was granted! We are told the beer served was a local brew; White House Honey Blonde Ale.

6148033865 d6e78141e5 Sgt. Dakota Meyer Grabs a Beer With President Obama

President Obama and Sergeant Dakota Meyer sharing a cold one after a day in the White House.

New Trend – Beer Cocktails

A new trend hitting the bars is “two ingredient beer cocktails.” Here are a few of the most popular:

ShandyGaff 6 ounces Pale Ale and 5 ounces Ginger Beer

Cerveza Cabeza 8 ounces Negro Modelo 4 ounces sparkling limeade served in a salt rimmed glass.

Beer-Mosa 4 ounces orange juice topped with 12 ounces weiss beer or hefeweiss.

Peat Racer 12 ounces Racer IPA with 1 ounce Laphroaig scotch floated on top.

If these recipes are a little complicated for you, there is always a Beersicle. They're easy to make, and on a hot day, very refreshing. Take a bottle of beer, whisk in 2 ounces of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), pour the mixture into popsicle molds, ice-cube trays, or paper cups, and freeze.

Beer and Your Health

Thomas Jefferson stated, “Beer, if drunk with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

  • Nutrition. Beer contains folic acid, vitamins, iron, niacin, silicon, fiber, riboflavin and antioxidants, which help keep us strong and healthy. Beer has B vitamins and folates that originate from the hops, barley and other ingredients.

  • Bone health. Phytoestrogens, the hops used in the production of beer, help prevent bone loss, and research has shown that beer also may help rebuild bone mass in men and young women.

  • Mental health. Moderate consumption can have some psychological benefits and having an occasional draft among friends can contribute to people’s satisfaction with their social lives.

  • Cardiovascular health. In a 2006 study by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Harvard School of Public Health, heart-healthy men who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol were 40% to 60% less likely to suffer from a heart attack compared with heart-healthy men who did not drink. The same researchers also found a correlation between men with high blood pressure who drink moderately and a lower risk of heart attacks.

  • Diabetes. Moderate drinking may help prevent Type 2 diabetes in men and women, according to research cited by Forbes.


Foster's Sold

Foster's of Australia has accepted a takeover bid of more than $10 billion from SAB Miller/Coors. The change will not affect Foster's in the United States. Foster's is already brewed domestically by Miller, which owns the right to brew it in the U.S.


The Economy

A report released mid-September by Bloomberg said that U.S. consumer confidence held last week at the second-lowest level of 2011 as the highest number of households in three years said it was a bad time to spend. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was minus 49.3 in the period to Sept. 11, near the 2011 low of minus 49.4 reached in May. The buying climate gauge slumped to the lowest level since October 2008. According to the report, the majority -- nine out of 10 -- of Americans polled had a negative view on the economy.

Neiman-Marcus says luxury sales are holding up in the bad economy. Fourth quarter sales were $919 million compared to $826 million for the same quarter in 2010. The adjusted net loss for the fourth quarter was $18.7 million compared with a net loss of $32.8 million. That sounds like luxury sales are doing well, but only at loss leader pricing.

Marketing News

Today’s Millennials are coming of age in a postmodern world—which encourages consumption with playful, carefree abandon. In 2011, two-thirds of Millennials are now over the age of 21, the oldest are entering their 30s. By 2015, almost half of the world’s population will be under the age of 25. Raised in a digital age, they wield a tremendous amount of influence through their use of technology and digital media. They have the power to set trends, are open to trying new products, services, retailers and brands. They then share their experiences with others in their social online universe. It is likely this generation will be consuming at higher levels than previous generations. In the future we will all be buying more stuff, and Millennials will be lead the way. Millennials identify with brands, but not in the same manner as their elder Boomer siblings. Millennials have not yet made their brand preferences or chosen favorite places to shop.

Walgreen's is adding beer and wine sections to their California stores. At this point it is not clear how many stores will be licensed, but with over 600 stores in California, this is going to change the price of licenses. And no matter how much beer and wine the licensed stores sell, it will surely change the retail landscape.


How Natural is Natural?


Whole Foods pulled Skinnygirl Margarita from its shelves and two class action suits were filed in California against brand owner Beam Global. Beam and Skinnygirl creator Bethenny Frankel have said they will change the brand’s packaging from its current “all-natural” label to read “natural flavoring.” Both Whole Foods’ action and the lawsuits are in response to Skinnygirl’s use of preservative, benzoate. Beam and Frankelput out a joint statement regarding the lawsuits, “This litigation is frivolous. We will defend our case vigorously and we are fully confident we will prevail.”


Paper, Plastic, or Nothing?

Los Angeles Councilmember Koretz has proposed a ban on grocery stores using plastic and paper bags to "bag" groceries. Instead, they would do what many do already -- sell or give away reusable tote bags, which of course leads to customers coming to the store with their own reusable bags.

Wine Sales for 2010

2011 Wine Handbook Total wine dollars grew to $26.9 billion last year with on-premise accounting for 44.1 percent. This is a gain of 2.5 percent from 2009 and a change from the previous two years when the recession directly effected on-premise sales.

What Expiration Date?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported the discovery of a natural preservative called Bisin, which is produced by some types of harmless bacteria. Besides preventing the rotting of food, Bisin also prevents the growth of lethal bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and listeria. The researchers believe that the discovery could mean that products like milk, ready meals, opened wine and fresh salad dressing could be safely consumed long after they are bought. In some cases Bisin could extend the food's life by several years. This could lead to a massive reduction in the amount of food wasted and thrown every year. Bisin was discovered by Dr Dan O'Sullivan "It seems to be much better than anything which has gone before. It doesn't compromise nutrient quality - we are not adding a chemical, we are adding a natural ingredient.” said Sullivan.The first products containing Bisin are expected to arrive in the market in three years.


French customs officers in the Channel ports of Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer confiscated 82,000 liters of illegal spirits in the past month. This is the amount normally seized over a three-month summer period. The surge is being blamed on high import duties in the UK.

New California Laws

AB 183 would ban alcohol sales through self-serve checkout at retailers and supermarkets in California. It passed the Assembly earlier this year, the Senate in August 21-16, and was sent to Governor Jerry Brown. Brown has until October 9 to either sign or veto the bill. A number of other laws affecting the industry were voted in and will take effect January 1. Members are encouraged to log in to the 2011 Legislation page to keep informed.

California Wine Grape Harvest is Underway

In the first week of September picking was limited to whites and sparkling wine grapes, but it appears that all the grapes will be ripening at once, rather than the six to eight week schedule winemakers like to see. Overall a small crop is expected and it will be several weeks behind the usual schedule. The end of summer heat waves have caused sugar levels to spike while acid levels are still high. Reds will be ripening in late September and well into October. A mid-October storm like in 2009 could cause havoc.

Moonlight Wine Tastings

It's come to our attention that the latest big thing in wine tastings is “Moonlight Tasting.” These are supplier tastings that don't start until 10 or 11 PM. Why? Because Southern California's top sommeliers have taken to gathering for nightcaps at some of the hot spots around town. By having a Moonlight Tasting, 10 to midnight, a wholesaler can get a large group of these wine pushers together at one time, in one room, with one thing in mind: selling.


Tasting Notes

Taste of L.A.

September started off with the LA Times “Taste of LA”. The event took place Friday through Monday, Labor Day weekend at Paramount Studios, the old Robinson's Department Store in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and downtown's Broadway District. The event was highly publicized in the Times for several weeks ahead. Although it was definitely geared for consumers, trade buyers that didn't participate missed a unique tasting opportunity. Wine and food pairings could be tried, and consumer reactions to the showings could be observed and analyzed. Hundreds of foods and beverages were shown in one location. If you missed this year's event, be sure to calendar it for next year. The tastings featured about 100 of LA's trendiest restaurants and hot spots sampling plates of their house recipes set against about 50 Wine, Beer, and Spirits producers giving glasses of their products.

The inevitable question: were there “best buys at the tastings?” The answer is “Yes, but surprisingly they were not among the beverage industry's innovators and high-fliers. The best buys were from the old line traditional producers. George DeBoeff's Beaujolais Village at $12 retail, Beringer Estate's Cabernet at $30 retail, Charles Krug's Cab at under $20, and Acacia Pinot Noir at $25. These are the standard's that we judge other wines by. Yet, they are also today's consumer bargains.

Monterey Bay Company Tasting-LA

This tasting took place late in the month at West Hollywood's London Hotel. They offered tastings from 25 of their wineries and importers. These were all top wines at prices that were reasonable for there quality. Among them we found two worthy of mention; Stephen Vincent and Diamond Creek. The pricing is at the opposite ends of the spectrum, but we consider both good buys for different reasons. To purchase these and other wines contact Monterey Bay Wine Company at (800) 474-6292.

Stephen Vincent offers a range of 2009 vintage wines that are all reasonably priced, true-to-type, sound, and most of all good matches to serve with food. A crisp and clean Sauvignon Blanc $11.99. a Chardonnay that is buttery without oak $12.99. Merlot and Cabernet that were mellow and good with meat, a Syrah and Cab blend called “Crimson” that is easy to understand and has a deep Syrah color $12.99, and a 100% Pinot Noir $16.99. All are discounted in 5 case lots and can be promoted at lower retails. These are wines your customers can choose and keep coming back for more. Contact Stephen Vincent Situm at (415) 497-2237.

Diamond Creek Vineyards tasted 2007 wines from two vineyards. Both are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain near Calistoga. These are big wines with all the characteristics that only come with Napa Valley Cab. If you are thinking about what to drink 30 years from now in 2040, lay these down now. The Red Rock terrace needs 5 years to open up, but will easily live for 25 more $175. The Volcanic Hill is ready to drink now, but will also only get better for another 30 years $175. Contact Chuck Ross at


Industry Calendar

10/2 Ken Burns TV series Prohibition starts(check local listings)
10/5 US Foodservice Show LA
10/8 Yom Kippur 10/13-16 Food & Wine LA
10/14 House Band Wines Launch-LA
10/15 Mutual Trading Show LA-Asian food, beer, and sake
10/21-23 Paso Robles Harvest Festival-Paso Robles
11/5 Howell Mountain Harvest Celebration-Napa
11/16 Stars of Cabernet Tasting-LA
11/24 Thanksgiving
12/25 Christmas
1/1/2012 New Year's Day




Our industry is more controlled by laws than most others. The State Legislature and the ABC give us license privileges and can take them away. New alcoholic beverage laws are being introduced, passed, and sent to the Governor. Many critical issues are pending. Is your business safe? Members are encouraged to look through the Legislative Bulletin. If there is a new law that is a problem for your business, call the association office now. The CBRA is your voice in Sacramento. If you are not a member, join today. The CBRA is your only voice when it comes to new beverage laws.

Brands and Comments

The CBRA Newsletter has not accepted any payment from any of the brands mentioned in this edition. The editor, Ron Ziff, welcomes comments at

CBRA Membership Remains Open

Now, more than ever, access to your industry is important. The CBRA is California's only statewide association of licensed retailers, and our membership continues to be open for the first time in 20 years.

At CBRA we deal with licenses and regulations that affect the beverage business on a daily basis. That's why CBRA offers practical solutions, unique products, services, information, and timely advice for both large and small beverage businesses. With reasonable fees, superior service, and associates that are easy to reach, CBRA helps you to run your business better and easier.

California Beverage Retailers Association – We know how to get it done.


California Beverage Retailers Association
If you are not already a California Beverage Retailers Association member, please join, Print this form, and mail with a $50.00 check to: CBRA PO Box 56686, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413. You may also renew your membership. Dues are not a charitable contribution, but may be deductible as an ordinary business expense.


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