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Entries in Alcohol (13)

Saturday
Aug032013

Postal Service Considers Cutting Into Alcohol Shipping Business

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the U.S. Postal Service faces $15 billion in losses this year as fewer people send mail, one of the ways it hopes to raise money is by shipping alcohol.

Private carriers have been shipping alcohol for decades, but the postal service is prevented by law from engaging in the same business.

On Thursday, Postmaster General Patrick Donahue said he hopes the agency can deliver alcoholic beverages and thereby raise $50 million a year.

Private shipping company UPS offers wine shipping services for customers who are licensed to ship wine. Smaller shipping firms, like Premier Wine Shipping, which services much of California wine country, would face stiff competition from the postal service’s typically lower rates.

The company ships over 600 cases of wine each week from its three locations in St. Helena, Sonoma and Healdsburg, Calif.

Tony Aguilera, general manager for Premier Wine Shipping, said, “A small business like us — with the post office being four or five buildings down — it is going to take a lot of our customers, depending on their prices and their reliability.”

Aguilera has initial concerns about the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to ship wine safely.

“There have been plenty of times when they’ve lost packages of mine and there’s really no way track something in the same way as UPS and FedEx,” he said.

Premier Wine Shipping picks up wine from more than 80 different locations in Napa and Sonoma counties, then outsources shipping to FedEx. Premier Wine Shipping also offers pick-up and delivery to customers’ homes.

Last year the Senate passed a postal reform bill that included a provision allowing the delivery of alcohol. The bill requires compliance with any laws in the state of origin and the destination.

A spokeswoman for the postal service said most people know the agency doesn’t accept alcohol for mailing. The post office’s standard operating procedure even states packages “bearing” alcoholic beverage markings and/or labels must be returned to the mailer and not be forwarded to the addressee.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb272013

Lawsuit Claims Budweiser and Other Brands are Watered-Down

Alexander Zemlianichenko JR/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SAN FRANSISCO) -- There may be some truth to the joke that certain beers are no more than water.

A new class lawsuit claims Anheuser-Busch is watering down its Budweiser and several other brands, and that drinkers are being cheated by lower-than-advertised alcohol content.

The lawsuit is a multi-state endeavor, with claims being filed in federal courts in Philadelphia,  New Jersey and San Francisco.

Josh Boxer, an attorney for plaintiffs in California, said the plaintiffs were tipped off to the overstated alcohol through information from former workers at some of the company’s 13 U.S. breweries.

The lawsuit alleges that watering down of beers began after Anheuser-Busch merged with the Belgian-Brazilian company InBev in 2008, to form the world's largest alcohol producer.

A lower alcohol content means more water, and a cheaper beer for Anheuser-Busch to make, increasing profits and “intentionally short[ing] the alcohol content,” Boxer said in a phone interview.

One of the plaintiffs claims she bought a six pack of Budweiser every week for the past four years and says she feels cheated.

Anheuser-Busch, naturally, disputes these claims. Peter Kraemer, the company’s vice president of brewing and supply, called them “completely false,” in an e-mail.

“Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws,” Kraemer said. “We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the U.S. and the world.”

If the claims are true, total damages “could be quite significant based on the volume of products that AB produces a year,” Boxer said. The complaints all seek damages over $5 million.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb172013

Maker’s Mark Rethinks Cutting Alcohol Content

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LORETTO, Ky.) -- Maker’s Mark drew a storm of complaints when the venerable bourbon distiller announced this week it would be diluting its whisky due to anticipated supply shortages, but on Sunday it announced it is scrapping the plan.

“While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand — and you told us in large numbers to change our decision,” the company said in a statement released on Sunday. “You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”

Effective immediately, the company said, it was reversing its decision to lower the alcohol content of Maker’s Mark, and would resume production at 45 percent alcohol by volume.

“The unanticipated dramatic growth rate of Maker’s Mark is a good problem to have, and we appreciate some of you telling us you’d even put up with occasional shortages,” said the statement, signed by COO Rob Samuels and chairman emeritus Bill Samuels Jr. “We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery.”

The response came after angry Maker’s Mark lovers took to Twitter to complain about the company lowering the alcohol content.

“Hey, @MakersMark Raise prices if you must, but don’t mess with success! Ever heard of New Coke? #bourbon” wrote one Twitter user.

Maker’s Mark had said it was forced to make the decision to decreasing the proof of its whisky from 90 proof to 84 proof because of “unforeseen demand.”  Bill Samuels Jr. had said that the brand wanted to keep its prices competitive.

“While not every part of the country has seen shortages yet, many have, and the demand is continuing to grow at a pace we’ve never before experienced. While we are investing today to expand capacity for the future, by producing 42 percent ABV Maker’s Mark we’ll be able to better meet our ongoing supply issues without compromising the taste,” he said in a statement.

The one-brand company doesn’t purchase bourbon from other distillers, making forecasting difficult.  The age range of the whiskey, five years nine months to seven years, had allowed the brand to keep ahead of market shortages in the past.

The owners said they had tested the watered-down bourbon themselves and validated their own findings with consumer research.  Both agreed that “there’s no difference in the taste,” Samuels said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep222012

eBay Begins Removing Alcohol Listings After “20/20” Report on Teen Buyer

iStockphotos/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The online marketplace eBay has said it will begin removing listings for beer and liquor from its site after a teen working with 20/20 successfully ordered vodka from two eBay vendors. The vendors advertised their products as "collectible."

While eBay prohibits the sale of all alcohol with the exception of some wines sold by licensed wine sellers, it does allow for the sale of collectible alcohol containers. The site's current alcohol policy states that the seller of the container "will take all appropriate steps to ensure that the buyer is of lawful age in the buyer's and seller's jurisdiction."

But that didn't stop one teen who worked with 20/20 from obtaining alcohol through the site. We asked Xander, 13, to head to the site and try to buy liquor there. One vendor refused to sell his product when Xander and a 20/20 producer declined to send a copy of an ID showing that the buyer was of legal drinking age. But Xander was able to successfully place an order with two other vendors -- a result that mirrored work done by researchers at the University of North Carolina, who found during a recent study that teens could order alcohol from a number of sites, including eBay.

"All I had to do was type in vodka on the search bar, click one button and it can send it to my house," Xander told 20/20. (A 20/20 producer paid for the purchases.)

Weeks later, five bottles of vodka arrived at Xander's front door.

In a statement to 20/20 on Friday morning, following the posting of an ABCNews.com article about Xander's experience, eBay said it is completely revising its alcohol sales practices to protect against illegal sales:

"eBay will not allow our marketplace to be used as a way to circumvent laws regarding the sale of alcohol, particularly the illegal sale of alcohol to minors. We are beginning the process of removing listings of beer and spirits. We expect to allow these listings again after developing and implementing additional, reasonable requirements to support seller compliance with our policies and applicable laws. We will continue to allow listings by pre-approved, licensed wine sellers."

The company said earlier that it had taken action against the two vendors who sold alcohol to Xander.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that many Internet alcohol vendors fail to verify that customers are of legal drinking age. In a report on a study released in May, researchers said that underage study participants successfully ordered alcohol online 45 times from popular vendors, including eBay.

"With just a few clicks on their computer or smartphone, kids can order alcohol delivered to their home," lead study author Rebecca Williams, a research associate at UNC, said after the study's release. "We were amazed at how easy it was for minors to buy alcohol online."

Williams said that researchers found listings on eBay that were not in line with the site's own criteria for what constitutes an alcohol-related collectible.

According to the site's current policy, the contents of the collectible must not be intended for consumption, that the value of the item is in its container, not its contents, and that the item must not be available in any retail outlet.

"Our simple searches revealed countless unrestricted listings by the sellers of common liquors that clearly didn't meet any of the criteria, such as varieties of Bacardi rum available at any liquor store," Williams said.

What remains unclear, Williams said, is how often teens today are actually using eBay and other online retailers to purchase alcohol. A 2006 study sponsored by the wine industry found that just 2 percent of teens reported buying alcohol online. Williams said she hopes to do her own study on the subject, through a nationally representative survey, next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep212012

Forget Fake IDs: Can Kids Buy Alcohol on eBay?

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The online marketplace eBay is a popular site for bidding on rare finds and selling your own household treasures, but resourceful teens might also find another use for it: scoring booze.

While eBay prohibits the sale of all alcohol with the exception of some wines sold by licensed wine sellers, it does allow for the sale of collectible alcohol containers. The site's alcohol policy states that the seller of the container "will take all appropriate steps to ensure that the buyer is of lawful age in the buyer's and seller's jurisdiction."

But that didn't stop one teen who worked with 20/20 from obtaining alcohol through the site. We asked Xander, 13, to head to the site and try to buy liquor there. One vendor refused to sell his product when Xander and a 20/20 producer declined to send a copy of an ID showing that the buyer was of legal drinking age. But Xander was able to successfully place an order with two other vendors.

"All I had to do was type in vodka on the search bar, click one button and it can send it to my house," Xander told 20/20. (A 20/20 producer paid for the purchases.)

Weeks later, five bottles of vodka arrived at Xander's front door.

In a statement to 20/20, eBay reiterated its policy that it prohibits the general sale of alcohol and only allows sales of wine by pre-approved, licensed sellers.

"Sellers are required to take all appropriate steps to ensure that the buyer is of lawful age. We prohibit the general sale of alcohol and we have zero tolerance for anyone who violates our policies. When violations occur, we take appropriate action as we have done in this case," the company said.

The company said it has taken action against the two vendors who sold alcohol to Xander.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that many Internet alcohol vendors fail to verify that customers are of legal drinking age. In a report on a study released in May, researchers said that underage study participants successfully ordered alcohol online 45 times from popular vendors, including eBay.

"With just a few clicks on their computer or smartphone, kids can order alcohol delivered to their home," lead study author Rebecca Williams, a research associate at UNC, said after the study's release. "We were amazed at how easy it was for minors to buy alcohol online."

Williams said that researchers found listings on eBay that were not in line with the site's own criteria for what constitutes an alcohol-related collectible.

The site states that the contents of the collectible must not be intended for consumption, that the value of the item is in its container, not its contents, and that the item must not be available in any retail outlet.

"Our simple searches revealed countless unrestricted listings by the sellers of common liquors that clearly didn't meet any of the criteria, such as varieties of Bacardi rum available at any liquor store," Williams said.

In its statement to 20/20, eBay said "We continue to strengthen our policy enforcement efforts to ensure a trusted marketplace for our customers."

What remains unclear, Williams said, is how often teens today are actually using eBay and other online retailers to purchase alcohol. A 2006 study sponsored by the wine industry found that just 2 percent of teens reported buying alcohol online. Williams said she hopes to do her own study on the subject, through a nationally representative survey, next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Sam Adams Creates Ale for Newlyweds

Boston Beer Company(BOSTON) -- Newlyweds now have a little something else to celebrate other than their nuptials: a new beer from Samuel Adams.  Newlywed Ale, a limited-edition pale ale, will only be available Thursday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the brewery’s Boston location.

“Brides, grooms, couples, recently engaged and recently married” are invited to the event, which will feature wedding experts from TheKnot.com and a justice of the peace to perform impromptu ceremonies.  (Wedding license not included.)  Couples can also enter for a chance to win up to $1,000 for their rehearsal dinner.

The site describes the beer as a “limited release Belgian-style pale golden ale.  A distinct and complex brew, Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale offers layers of flavor including fruit and honeysuckle notes from the Belgian yeast, sweetness from malt and citrus character from hops.”

Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Sam Adams, describes the beer as the color of a golden wedding band.

The 750mL bottles are $14.99 each and can be purchased in a case of 12.  Only 350 cases of the beer have been brewed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

New Beer Includes Bits of Gold

Zoonar/Thinkstock(OSTRAVA, Czech Republic) -- This isn’t your average tailgating beer.  A brewery in the Czech Republic has released a gold-flecked lager that’s fit for a king.

The beer, packaged in a champagne bottle, contains 0.018 grams of gold leaf.  It is called “Re” after the Egyptian sun god and took 18 months to develop.

“Gold is an inert metallic element so it doesn’t taste like anything,” said Marek Pieton, Chief Brewer, in a video by Diagonal View. “But it has a very impressive effect and it also may have a good effect on health later.”

Thirsting for the taste of gold?  The brewery has only produced 500 bottles of the gold-flecked drink. The price of the product was not disclosed.

“This product is not designed for a wider market.  It is produced for special clients upon request.  These beers go through a highly rigorous process before distribution and we produce them only if customers order them,” said Pieton.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr172012

Drinking at Work? Some Employers See Benefits

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Drinking on the job?  Some employers say they're fine with that.  In fact, some companies will even buy the booze, on the theory that a little tippling makes for a happier employee -- and maybe, too, as a new study suggests, a more creative one.

Though a variety of companies today serve alcohol to employees, ad agencies hold the liquor-fueled torch highest.  The ranks of liquor-serving firms have recently included BBDO, Grey, J. Walter Thompson, Mindshare and TBWA/Chiat/Day.

In New York, J. Walter Thompson has in its offices a 50-foot-long bar with pedestal stools that would put many commercial bars to shame.

"Yes, we have a bar," says a spokesperson, "and it is frequently accessed.  We think it incentivizes and enthuses employees.  It's generally used for off-hours consumption, but that's not to say there isn't on-hours consumption as well."

Ad agency Kirshenbaum, Bond, Senecal + Partners hosts internal, open-bar events called Trolleys.  The name comes from a drink cart, known affectionately as the trolley, that 20 years ago rolled around the agency dispensing cocktails.  It since has been retired, but the liquor still flows, including brands belonging to agency clients.

Jonah Bloom, head of digital strategy at Kirshenbaum, says the firm tries to make Trolleys "a fairly regular thing."  Employees need a chance to bond, he says -- to get away from their desks for a while and have fun mingling.

"We work hard," he says.  "Most employees get in around 9 a.m., but they may work as late as 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. or even later.  Clients recognize that.  If we have a bit of fun, that's okay."

Plus, a drink or two has been known to aid the creative process.

"Say there's a group of employees standing around chatting," says Bloom of the Trolleys.  "They're just having fun, having a couple of beers together.  It's a social occasion.  They may not set out to solve a problem.  But somebody comes up with an idea, and somebody else builds on that."

Just how much credit should go to booze, he isn't sure.

"I'm not sure it's the alcohol," he says of the Trolleys' success at solving problems.  "It could just be the socializing.  But who knows?  [Alcohol] may act as lubricant."

Recent evidence suggests he's right.  A study released last week by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago finds that a little bit of alcohol -- just enough to register 0.075 on a breathalyzer -- can help your mind explore unorthodox solutions.  Sometimes, researchers found, having a little less focus can be helpful.

The report, "Uncorking The Muse: Alcohol Intoxication Facilitates Creative Problem Solving" was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr052012

PB&J Vodka: Just Like Mom Used to Make?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With flavored vodka becoming all the rage in the beverage industry -- tipplers can taste everything from marshmallow to bacon flavored vodka nowadays -- a leading distiller of flavor-infused spirits has gone old-school. Grade school, in fact: Van Gogh Vodka has created PB&J vodka, a liquor that tastes like the cafeteria classic.

Master distiller Tim Vos chose a raspberry flavored "jelly" to go with the "oily structure" of the peanut butter taste.

"It is challenging to transform a famous food flavor into a drink flavor," Vos said, "however I think this transition is beautiful and the flavor is intriguing -- I am certain that everyone will want to enjoy more than one glass!"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan092012

Just Like Beer, Scotch Gets Canned

Scottish Spirits Imports Inc. has introduced Scotch whiskey in a can. "Scotch in a Can" contains eight shots (12 ounces). www[dot]scottishspirits[dot]com(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Just when the controversy over the banned FourLoko has died down, a beverage company has come out with straight Scotch in a can, just like soda pop.

Though there’s been no uproar so far, as was the case with the alcohol-caffeine combo FourLoko, Scottish Spirits’ “Scotch in a Can” is being marketed as a “distilled and matured in Scotland for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks.”  It has notes of “honey, vanilla, butterscotch, apples and pears,” and a “hint of peat and smoke in the background,” as described on their site.

Each can contains about eight shots or 12 ounces of 80-proof Scotch.  The cans are re-sealable, as the company does not endorse drinking a whole can in one sitting.

Monique Force, a spokesperson for Scottish Spirits Imports, says the product was created from “the need for convenience factor: people can take this boating, poolside, or to a football tailgating party without bringing a glass bottle.”

Force says they are “in the process of getting distributors within the next couple months” and that “Scotch in a Can” will be available nationwide.  One can of scotch has a suggested retail price of $5.00.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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