Industry News

The Friday Mash (Hubble Telescope Edition)

Twenty-five years ago today, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit. The telescope, which has had five in-space service calls by NASA astronauts, is still functioning and is expected to last another five years.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, where Krista Dotzenrod caught a foul ball in her beer cup and, at the urging fans, chugged the beer. The hashtag for this is #ChugBall.

“Raising the Bar”, which began last year in New York, is a program in which scholars give lectures in pubs and other venues. Recently, Hong Kong became the first Asian city to stage this event.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott sent a mixed message about binge drinking when he downed a 12-ounce schooner of beer seven seconds at a Sydney bar.

A bar in Maple Grove, Minnesota, must deal with the dreaded Beer Police. Its offense? Buying kegs of New Glarus Spotted Cow from a Wisconsin liquor store and bringing them across the state line.

The government of Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, has outlawed the sale of beer at convenience stores. Small retailers account for around 60 percent of the country’s beer sales.

Tomorrow is Dark Lord Day, and host Three Floyds Brewery has something new for festival-goers: Dark Lord-infused hot sauce, made with ancho and guajillo chili peppers.

Finally, Brook Bristow, executive director of the South Carolina Brewers Guild, was presented with the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award at last week’s Craft Brewers Conference. Working pro bono, Bristow’s law firm successfully lobbied for craft-friendly laws in the Palmetto State.

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Harpoon Ex-CEO Returns to the Beer Business

Rich Doyle, former CEO of Harpoon Brewery, is back in the brewing business. Nine months after selling his stake in Harpoon, he’s joined forces with Friedman, Fleisher & Lowe, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, to form Enjoy Beer LLC. The new venture will create partnerships with craft brewers who wish to preserve their local independence, while gaining shared resources in areas such as marketing, logistics, and finance in order to compete with larger competitors.

Abita Brewing, the group’s founding brewery partner, has reportedly sold a stake in the company in order to join the new enterprise. Abita CEO David Blossman said, “Enjoy Beer will pioneer a new model in the industry, and together, we will help these independent companies compete at the next level by expanding their resources and their reach.” Abita recently completed a $30 million expansion that will increase its brewing capacity to 400,000 barrels a year. Its current annual production is 160,000 barrels, which ranks it 21st on the list of largest craft breweries.

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The Friday Mash (Great Gatsby Edition)

Ninety years ago today, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby, was first published by Charles Scribner’s Sons. The novel about the young and mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby, painted a picture of America’s “Jazz Age,” a phrase that Fitzgerald also made popular.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Minneapolis, where Finnegans beer is celebrating 15 years of feeding the hungry. Profits from the sale of Finnegans—half a million dollars since 2000—have been used to buy fresh produce for those in need.

Four of the world’s biggest breweries announced they will disclose calorie counts of the beers they sell in Europe. Americans might soon see calories and other nutritional data on the beer they buy.

Baseball season began this week, and the New York Times’s Eric Asimov and friends marked the occasion by choosing their top ten American lagers from a field of 20.

Friday happy hour will be part of Anheuser-Busch’s interviewing process for its new marketing office in Manhattan. It’s part of an effort to find out how well candidates handle social situations.

Maine governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would require a pint of beer to contain 16 ounces. The governor says Maine’s deceptive-practices laws already protect customers from short pints.

Mark Hunter, the new CEO of MolsonCoors, told Wall Street analysts that his company will focus more on craft beer, and that it has a desire to acquire craft breweries.

Finally, Kit Lab hopes to provide homebrewers what Hello Fresh provides home cooks: exact portions of ingredients. The recipes for each kit are supplied by homebrewers, who’ll get a cut of the profits.

Is Ballast Point Planning a Brewery in Richmond?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits has taken an interest in Richmond as the site of an East Coast brewery. This news comes on the heels of an economic development deal with Stone Brewing had entered into with city officials.

Richmond’s discussions with Ballast Point appear to be in the preliminary stages, and the brewery is likely considering other potential sites as well. A Ballast Point spokeswoman told the paper, “We’d prefer not to comment on any future expansion plans.”

Speculation about Ballast Point’s interest in Richmond began a few weeks ago, when brewery executives paid a visit to Mekong, a Vietnamese restaurant and bar that has won national acclaim for its beer selection. A Mekong patron who met the executives wrote about it on Facebook. Mekong’s owner confirmed their visit, but added that many out-of-town beer lovers stop by as well.

Yup. Another Nasty Trademark Dispute.

Earlier this month, Bell’s Brewery filed paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office challenging a tiny North Carolina brewery’s application for a federal trademark for its name, Innovation Brewing. Bell’s claims that “Innovation” infringes on its rights to the slogan, “Bottling Innovation Since 1985,” and would be confusing to customers. The dispute has prompted a spirited discussion among beer enthusiasts.

Innovation issued a statement responding to Bell’s trademark claim. Its owners said, among other things, that “We do not believe that any human on earth would confuse Innovation Brewing with Bell’s Brewery, despite their slogans.” Bell’s maintains that it is merely defending its trademark, and that it is not asking Innovation to pay damages or change its name.

The Friday Mash (San Diego State U. Edition)

On this day in 1897, San Diego State University was established. The 35,000 students at SDSU have an amazing selection of craft beer to choose from. At the end of 2014, the county had nearly 100 breweries and brewpubs.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Houston, where the Texas Beer Refinery has opened for business. Its fermenting tanks and brew kettles have been made to look like refinery towers from a distance.

Goose Island Brewing Company’s 20-year-old brewery on Chicago’s Near West Side will start offering tours and tastings later this month. The tasting room will also offer growler fills.

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company has brewed a beer to benefit James Madison’s Montpelier. Ambition Ale, “a beer with checks and balances,” will be available in central Virginia this summer.

Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, Oregon’s largest-selling craft beer, is now co-branded with Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers. Both the brewery and the team are Portland institutions.

Goldcrest 51 beer was popular in Memphis until the Tennessee Brewing Company closed its doors in 1955. Beer writer Kenn Flemmons plans to revive the beer this spring, using the original recipe.

A federal appeals court has ruled that Flying Dog Ales can sue Michigan for damages over its refusal to approve the label for Raging Bitch IPA. The state’s decision was overturned in court.

Finally, a new beer from Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company honors cherry farmer Nancy Bunting, who supplied it with thousands of pounds of cherries. Allagash has donated part of the proceeds from “Nancy” to a charity that helps farmworkers with health problems.

Which Colorado Breweries Are Takeover Targets?

Colorado has some 225 breweries, and the Denver Post’s Eric Gorski is asking the (much more than) $64,000 question: Which of these breweries is going to be acquired? Recent activity suggests that the most attractive takeover targets are breweries that turn out more than 40,000 barrels a year. Colorado has a number of those.

However, the owners of Colorado’s top five breweries insist that they’re not selling out. Oskar Blues Brewery said that it’s going to be a buyer, not a seller. New Belgium Brewing Company’s founder sold her shares to brewery workers, and the company is 100-percent employee owned. Odell Brewing is “not on the market.” Left Hand Brewing is committed to staying independent. And Breckenridge Brewing says it had no intention of selling out.

Despite the breweries’ denials, Gorski maintains that an acquisition is not out of the question. He says, “If the recent industry upheaval shows anything, it’s this: Don’t be surprised by anything.”

The Friday Mash (Not Mr. Met Edition)

On this day in 1872, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in Manhattan. With more than two million works in its permanent collection, “The Met”—not to be confused with baseball mascot “Mr. Met”—is one of the largest art museums in the world.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Turkey, where security guards red-carded a fan for trying to smuggle beer into a soccer stadium. A whole case of bottles, in an outfit he’d designed for that purpose.

The latest trademark fight pits New Belgium Brewing Company and Oasis, Texas Brewing Company, both of which brew a beer called “Slow Ride”. New Belgium filed its mark ahead of Oasis, but Oasis’s beer hit the market first.

Vietnam’s robust drinking culture—there is no word for “hangover”—is raising concerns about health as citizens grow wealthier. A glass of beer costs just 30 U.S. cents.

Screenwriter and director Matthew Vaughn says that Guinness provided the inspiration for Kingsman: The Secret Service. Over pints, Vaughn and comic book maestro Mark Miller came up with the idea of an old-school spy movie.

The popularity of IPA and other craft beer has forced Iowa lawmakers to revisit the definition of “beer”. Beverages with 5 to 8 percent ABV currently exist in a legal twilight zone.

An Austin, Texas, company has developed a product called Kube, which combines a high-quality portable sound system and a beverage cooler. It’s designed to be used at parties and outdoor events.

Finally, Empire Brewing Company is collaborating with China’s Jingwei Fu Tea Company to brew Two Dragons beer. It starts out mellow and woody, and finishes with a sweet tea-like taste. Empire hopes to export it to China.

Craft Brewing’s Growing Pains

Rich Doyle, one of the founders of Harpoon Brewery, asked his partners to bring in an investor so their brewery could buy struggling competitors. They said no. So, after 30 years, Doyle is cashing out.

Doyle believes we’re in the midst of a craft beer bubble, which like all bubbles, will pop. He told the New York Times, “you have a lot of entrants, with low barriers to entry, chasing a finite amount of growth.” he said.

But Doyle’s partners disagree. They think there’s more room for well-run breweries like Harpoon to keep growing. And many brewery owners elsewhere in the country agree with them.

Private equity groups have been investing in craft breweries. For example, Uinta Brewing, which brewed nearly 150,000 barrels last year and aims to break into craft’s top tier, took on an outside investor to fund the infrastructure it needs to get there.

Other breweries have accepted takeover offers from big breweries. The most newsworthy deals involve Anheuser-Busch, which recently bought 10 Barrel Brewing and Elysian Brewing.

And some breweries are borrowing to finance their expansion. This raises fears about unserviceable debt loads and overbuilding in general. Benj Steinman of Beer Marketing Insights told the Times, “People have built out way in front,” he said. “They’ve made bets and not all will succeed. It’s pretty likely there will be some that won’t survive. And then there might be some capacity available for cents on the dollar.”

The Friday Mash (Railroad Tycoon Edition)

Two hundred years ago today, the state of New Jersey awarded the first-ever railroad franchise to Colonel John Stevens III, the inventor who constructed America’s first steam locomotive.

And the bar car is open!

Fore! We begin at the 16th hole of the Phoenix Open, where rowdy spectators celebrated Francesco Molinari’s hole-in-one by showering him with beer and other flying objects.

A Minnesota brewery found out that it can’t sell “Rated R” beer. Not because of violence or sex, but because the Motion Picture Association of America trademarked the phrase. Molson’s XXX is, presumably, still in the clear.

MillerCoors has installed 10,000 solar panels at its Irwindale, California, brewery. The new system will generate enough electricity to brew seven million cases of beer each year.

Blank Slate Brewing Company joined forces with Oskar Blues Brewery to brew “Cincy 3-Way Porter.” The beer contains cumin, coriander, allspice and cinnamon, which are found in Cincinnati-style chili.

Researchers in China have discovered that xanthohumol, a substance found in hops, contains anti-oxidants that may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.

Ontario’s government plans some changes to its relationship with The Beer Store, the province’s quasi-monopoly. However, those changes won’t bring beer into convenience stores.

Finally, Yeti Coolers has invented a super-luxury koozie. The Colster, which retails for $30, wraps a beer in a stainless steel, double-walled, vacuum-insulated enclosure; and its “No Sweat” design prevents condensation from forming.

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