LAS VEGAS (Mar. 4, 2009) – It’s a competition that starts with a “Purification,” includes a “Sacrifice,” “Beheading” and “Judgment; and for Las Vegas bartender Greg Black, it ended with a “Championship.”  A bartender since 1997, Black, best mastered the nine-step Belgian beer pouring ritual Tuesday night to win the Stella Artois Draught Master Competition held at Lavo Nightclub.

Black will now represent the U.S. against more than 30 other countries at the World Draught Master Competition in Leuven, Belgium this October.

“Cracking open a can or popping the cap off a bottle is easy, but preparing a beer following the strict standards of the Belgian Pouring Ritual takes a lot more care and attention to detail,” said Black.  “At the Draught Master Competition you know every step of the pouring ritual will be highly scrutinized.  To be named champion and able to represent the U.S. in Belgium is incredible.”

The Draught Master Competition recognizes the best bartenders for their ability to adhere to the Belgian Pouring Ritual – a nine-step process that includes “purifying” the glassware; “sacrificing” the first beer poured and “beheading” the beer for the perfect head of foam.  The timed competition took place in front of a panel of four judges as well as a large audience of consumers and industry experts.

Judges graded the competitors on their ability to pour a perfect glass of Stella Artois and Hoegaarden from draught.  Competitors also were judged on how well they opened, poured and served bottles of Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe Blonde.  Judges were looking for the perfect pour as well as a showcase of skills, style and personality.

“The Belgians have mastered the art of the perfect pour, which not only ensures the utmost enjoyment of the beer, but also showcases the pouring process itself,” said competition judge Cian Hickey, vice president of draught, Anheuser-Busch InBev.  “The pouring skills on display in Las Vegas Tuesday were near perfection and would make any Belgian beer drinker proud.  The strong competition also will prepare the U.S. champion to take on the best from around the globe at the World Draught Master finals.”

Each bartender in the competition was carefully selected by Anheuser-Busch representatives as well as the local wholesaler.  The bartenders were chosen based on their ability to pour and present Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe perfectly using the traditional nine-step Belgian pouring ritual.

In 2008, U.S. champion Anthony Alba finished fourth in the World Draught Master finals.  It was the highest finish for an American since 2005 when Jessica Waltz took first.

Stella Artois is a classic Belgian lager, golden in color with exceptional clarity and a spicy hop character.  Hoegaarden is the Original Belgian White Beer, featuring a unique, refreshing flavor and spicy nose.  Leffe Blonde is an authentic and respected Belgian “Abbey” beer, a category almost exclusive to Belgium.  Stella Artois is 5.2 percent ABV; Hoegaarden is 4.9 percent ABV; Leffe Blonde is 6.6 percent ABV.  All are brewed in Belgium.

Based in St. Louis, Anheuser Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.5 percent share of U.S. beer sales.  The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light.  Anheuser Busch also owns a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading brewer.  Anheuser-Busch ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine’s Most Admired Global Companies list in 2009.  Anheuser Busch is one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and one of the world’s largest recyclers of aluminum cans.  The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer, and continues to operate under the Anheuser-Busch name and logo.  For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.