Fans of unusually flavored beers are largely limited to small craft products. Now, however, the big boys are increasingly getting into the act.
The latest is a chocolate beer from Miller Brewing Co., being brewed up in time for the holiday sales season in Midwest markets.
Arch competitor Anheuser-Busch already has introduced such flavored beers as Michelob Honey Lager and Michelob Amber Bock plus several seasonal beers.
Brewing industry analysts say the increase in the offbeat brews comes in response to competition from energy drinks, flavored vodkas and rums, and specialty cocktails that offer a wide range of flavors beyond the basic.
Frederick Miller Classic Chocolate Lager is being brewed with six different malts and will be available from October through December. The beer won the gold medal at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival in the "herb and spice" category under the name Temptation Bock. It will be sold in a four-pack of 12-ounce bottles with a suggested retail price of $5.99.
Pete Marino, Miller spokesman, said in a statement, "It’s about demonstrating what beer can be all about. Today there’s a lot of expectation from beer drinkers for variety, and we can create a lot of different flavors and options outside of traditional beer."
It should be noted that Miller isn’t the inventor of chocolate beer.
Other brewers got there first with such products as Samuel Adams’ Chocolate Bock, the Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout and a variety of craft-brewed chocolate stouts.
BEST PLACES FOR A BEER
If you’re on the road and looking for outstanding places to have a beer, Beer Advocate.com has drawn up a list of what it says are the best "50 Places to Have a Beer in America."
The list is a result of site users’ comments on BeerFly. It includes both brewpubs and beer bars. Here’s the top 15, with the whole list available here:
1. The Moan and Dove, Amherst, Mass.
2. The Publick House, Brookline, Mass.
3. Spuyten Duyvil, Brooklyn, N.Y.
4. Toronado, San Francisco, Calif.
5. The Map Room, Chicago, Ill.
6. Cock & Bull Pub, Sarasota, Fla.
7. Papago Brewing, Scottsdale, Ariz.
8. O’Brien’s Pub, San Diego, Calif.
9. Stuffed Sandwich, San Gabriel, Calif.
10. Capital Ale House, Richmond, Va.
11. Six Pax & Dogz, Swissvale, Pa.
12. Mahar’s, Albany, N.Y.
13. Selin’s Grove Brewing Co., Selinsgrove, Pa.
14. Capital Ale House At Innsbrook, Glen Allen, Va.
15. Brick Store Pub, Decatur, Ga.
The bad news: A warehouse fire in Yakima, Wash. wiped out 4 percent of the nation’s total yield of hops.
The good news: The nation produces so much hops industry analysts don’t think the consumer beer price will be affected.
The fire is estimated to have caused $450,000 damage to the building and $5 million to its contents. Investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Gary Mayfield, the ATF’s resident agent in charge, said, "It may be a few weeks before we can draw our conclusion. There’s an enormous amount of hops to dig through and get to the origin of the fire and dig out all the evidence."
It is possible the fire was from spontaneous combustion caused by intense heat that builds up in 200-pound bales of compressed hops, the contents of which are 15 to 20 percent resins and oils.
(c) 2006, Hearst Newspapers