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Six Pack: Beer Buzz of the Week

Saturday, 3 Nov 2012 | 1:02 PM ET

Six things that have consumers buzzing in the world of beer, wine and spirits this week:

Glass of shandy with slice of lemon
Food Collection | Getty Images
Glass of shandy with slice of lemon

1. Chipotle and Craft Beer: Craft beer is becoming a big part of fast food menus, with Smashburger mong the fast food chains offering craft beer to help win over customers. A recent study showed bigger beer menus mean bigger business. Now some Chicago-area Chipotle restaurants will soon start offering beer from 5 Rabbit Brewery, a small local craft brewery. Chipotle says it will offer two the brewery's beers: 5 Rabbit, a golden ale and 5 Vulture, a dark ale brewed with chiles and spices. The beer will be available at 15 Chicago area stores but could be expanded elsewhere in Chicago if it proves successful.

2. French Say 'Mon Dieu' Over Beer Tax: France may be known for its wine, but it doesn't mean the French don't enjoy a beer now and then. French consumers may soon be crying in their beer and as the French government, looking to fund struggling social programs, is working on a plan which would raise the taxes on beer by 160 percent. The French brewer's federation, Brasseurs de Francetells, tells the Associated Press the tax would raise the cost of a beer by about 20 percent. The United States is no stranger to beer taxes.

3. Beer Tax Killing the British Pub?: he French are not the only ones in the European Union dealing with high beer taxes. According to London's Telegraph, parliamentary legislation set in 2008 called for the amount of taxes paid on beer to automatically increase by 2 percent above inflation every year. Taxes now make up for more than 33 percent of the cost of a pint according to Campaign for Real Ale. Now CAMRA is urging the British government to take "urgent" action regarding the tax, which it said is responsible for an average of 18 pubs per week shutting down. Between March and September, 450 pubs have closed. The group said more than 5,800 pubs have closed since the bill was introduced.

4. BREW Goes Overseas: Craft beer is booming at home and it's also beginning to catch on overseas. This week, Craft Brew Alliance , an independent craft brewing company which operates the Kona Brewing Company, Omission Beer, Redhook Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewing announced it will start sending its products overseas. Craft Beer Alliance has signed an agreement with CraftCanTravel to exclusively distribute the four craft beer brands o Europe and Asia. CraftCanTravel is a craft beer exporting company focused on exporting U.S. craft beers to foreign markets. The company has begun distributing Craft Beer Alliance brands to China, Denmark, Finland, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. The overseas market is one New York-based Brooklyn Brewery has had much success with in recent years.

5. Craft Beer on the Auction Block: Craft beer continues break new ground in the beer business and now Massachusetts-based Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers said it will be the first brick-and-mortar auction house in the United States to auction beer. The company will be auctioning a two-bottle lot of 2007 Samuel Adams Utopias . The Utopia line of beer has been described as the "ultimate extreme beer," a high-alcohol beer (24-to-27-percent alcohol by volume) aged in wooden casks (sometimes for up to 15 years) that were previously used for bourbon, rum, sherry, brandy and Cognac. Given the demands of the brewing process, the release of the beer has generally been limited to every two years. Skinner said the auction will serve as proof that "fine ales, lagers and lambics are welcome to be auctioned alongside fine wines and spirits." The auction house said it will be offering more lots of aged beers going forward.

6. No Skill Necessary for This Wine Opener: ower tools and alcohol are generally not a combination we recommend. However, a wine opener made by one of the world's best-selling power tool makers is an exception. SKIL Power Tools has released the iXO Vivo Power Corkscrew. The company said the corkscrew, which looks like a mini-electric screwdriver, can open a bottle of wine in 10 seconds.

Most-Loved Label Update: Thanks to all who have submitted their most-loved labels. In order to process the submissions and to ensure a smooth voting process, we are pushing the start of the vote back a few weeks with a target of the first week of December. In the meantime, feel free to keep sending submissions as we lock the field down.

-By Tom Rotunno, CNBC Senior Editor; Follow him @tomrotunno.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com.

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