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Monday, December 7, 2009

Ask Not For Whom Red Bell Tolls

I'm compiling the archived files of 15 years of Malt Advocate stories, including back when we still covered beer, and I wrote a column called Short Sips that gave me a chance to poke fun at what was going on in the beer world...and sometimes things right in my own beer backyard. Such as this, which I I just copied out of a file from mid-2001. I know Jack remembers, and I know some of the rest of you do as well, the days when Red Bell provided the kind of comedy that H.L. Mencken used to have to rely on the Congressional Record to provide:
The following is a condensed composite of actual news articles from the Bloomberg news service, BusinessWire, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

March 24: Shares of Red Bell Brewing of Philadelphia will begin trading on March 27th. Red Bell had about $11.5 million in sales last year and the company will generate $12.5 million to $14 million in revenue this year, said Chief Executive Jim Bell. Red Bell owns breweries at several area stadiums and arenas, including Veterans Stadium, and plans to open a brewpub at Penn State University in July.

April 9: Red Bell announced today that certain inaccuracies were contained in a March 24th article. Red Bell had gross revenues of $514,720 in 2000, not $11.5 million. The article also incorrectly stated that Red Bell would generate $12.5 million to $14 million in revenues this year. Subject to completing, opening and operating its proposed [Short Sips TruthItalics added] Penn State brewpub as well as acquiring and operating at least 2 existing brew pubs, Red Bell could generate $11.5 to $12.5 million in revenues per year. Also, at the present time, Red Bell does not own or operate any brewpub locations [in stadiums or anywhere]. Finally, while Red Bell has applied for the listing of its common stock, Red Bell is still waiting for final approval of the application.

Well, well, well. Some days the news is so damned bizarre we don’t even have to say a word.
I never could figure out why the Inquirer always swallowed Jim Bell's press releases whole, no matter how many times they were burned.


Anonymous said...

He currently resides in the "where are they now file." Got nervous when he said he was gonna buy the lion, but quickly learned not to listen to him.

I did like that red bell wee heavy though, what a beer.

sam k said...

They pulled the wool over a lot of peoples' eyes for a looooooong time, not just the Inky (though they should have known better). Bunch of jokers.

They're one of the reasons Otto's couldn't open in downtown State College. They'd already announced their plans, and when Otto's followed suit, the town fathers cringed at the thought of TWO brewpubs downtown.

I remember looking at the orange license application in the window where Red Bell was supposed to open (for months and months) and thinking "Ain't never gonna happen." And it didn't. RIP.

Remember the bottling line they bought from Heineken in the Caribbean or some such that was way too big and they never even put together? Shades of the State College Quaker Steak and Lube!

Anonymous said...

second on the wee heavy, duck rabbit wee heavy sort of reminds me of it, but red bells had a little more heat. great on a cold night

Anonymous said...

sam k, I too remember that Red Bell sign in the window of the building that McLanahan's market is in. I was a student pretty excited to see a downtown brewpub. It was a giant tease for years.

sam k said...

Anony, you pegged it! It was a giant tease FOR YEARS! Red Bell was so full of semi-believable BS they kept a lot of people in the fold for a long time. Glad to see them gone!

Otto's would have kicked their butt, anyway!

Anonymous said...

I worked with bell when he was a stockbroker. Big sleazebag. He was slinging bs there as well.