Ludwig is on Christmas break, and won’t be back until January 4. In the meantime, Maryanne and Paul are filling in for him.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Richmond, Virginia, where it’s been a banner year for craft beer. Four new breweries and a meadery have opened their doors; and Stone Brewing Company will start up next spring.
Anheuser-Busch is giving Bud Light cans a makeover. Alissa Walker of Gizmodo.com says the can’s new design signals an end to the brand’s frat-boyish “Whatever” campaign.
Responding to a new Indonesian law banning beer sales in convenience stores, Diageo is brewing a non-alcoholic version of Guinness to be sold in that country. It’s called “Guinness Zero.”
More than 30 Arizona breweries are collaborating on an all-female-brewed beer. It’s a red IPA, and proceeds from its sale will go to Go Red for Women, an American Heart Association charity.
Despite Zimbabwe’s economic collapse, people are finding solace in beer. Observers say that bars in the capital city, Harare, are packed with holiday revelers.
Manhattan resident Leif Nelson has sued Miller Brewing Company for falsely representing that Foster’s is brewed in Australia. Brewing operations were moved to Texas in 2011.
Finally, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that people drink more on days when they exercise more. Perhaps they’re drinking to extend the “buzz” that physical activity brings.
Ludwig is on Christmas break, and won’t be back until January 4. Maryanne and Paul will be filling in for him. In the meantime, Ludwig left a plate of cookies, his heartiest Season’s Greetings, and an early version of…
We begin in Chicago, where Patti Wetli of DNAInfo.com takes us back to the Great Chicago Beer Riot of 1855. Hundreds of armed Germans stormed the city’s courthouse to protest the enforcement of liquor laws they considered anti-immigrant.
Queen City Q, a Charlotte-based chain of barbecue restaurants, has taken Anheuser-Busch products off the menu in protest of A-B’s allegedly pressuring distributors to stop handling craft beer.
Long Island’s Barrage Brewing Company has released two beers for Seinfield fans. They’re infused with Snickers and chocolate babka, foods that starred in the sitcom.
In Montreal, some cab drivers are competing with Uber by selling beer and cigarettes to passengers. Those sales are illegal, but the cabbies argue that Uber’s business model is illegal, too.
TravelPulse.com has compiled a scorecard of major U.S. airlines’ craft beer selections. Alaska and Delta Airlines lead the pack, Spirit Airlines ranked last, and Southwest Airlines showed the biggest improvement.
A federal appeals court has upheld an Indiana law that requires convenience stores to sell beer at room temperature. Liquor stores, which bar under-21s from entering, are allowed to sell cold beer.
Finally, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Beer Camp will return next year. The first stop on this six-city national tour will be Tampa on June 4. Sierra Nevada and 30 regional breweries will also brew a series of collaborative 12-packs.
Reuters reports that New Belgium Brewing Company has hired the advisory firm Lazard Middle Market, which has worked with other craft breweries exploring a possible sale. According to people familiar with the matter, New Belgium’s valuation could exceed $1 billion, the price Constellation Brands paid for Ballast Point Brewing Company.
Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch announced that it has acquired Arizona’s leading craft brewer, Four Peaks Brewing Company. Known for its Kilt Lifter Scottish-style ale, Four Peaks becomes the sixth brewery in A-B’s craft division, The High End.
On this day in 1609, explorer Henry Hudson became the first European to discover Delaware Bay. If you live near Cape May, New Jersey, or Lewes, Delaware, you can celebrate on Saturday at a beer festival held in two different states, but on the same bay.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in North Carolina, where festivals have been the target of a summer crackdown on liquor code violations. Organizers contend that the rules are obsolete and confusing.
Mitsubishi Plastic has overcome a major obstacle to putting beer in plastic bottles. The company added a thin carbon film, which greatly reduces the loss of oxygen, to the inside of the bottles.
Joe Stange of Draft magazine has a word of warning: American “session beers” are much stronger than their British counterparts, which means they’ll make you drunker than you think.
When California’s She Beverage Company applied for a trademark for the “Queen of Beers,” Anheuser-Busch InBev filed a notice of opposition. A-B claims She’s marketing is almost identical to its marketing of the “King of Beers.”
A Denver-area brewery will serve “marijuana beer” at next month’s Great American Beer Festival. It doesn’t contain THC, which is against federal law, but does include cannabis oil.
Venture capitalist Robert Finkel has made an unusual career move. His brewery, Forbidden Root, specializes in beer made with botanic ingredients, including lemon myrtle which costs $75 a kilo.
Finally, a Detroit Free Press correspondent went to a festival where the taps are open all night and attendees can walk to bed. It was the sixth annual Michigan Homebrew Festival, which continues the brewing competition once held at the Michigan State Fair.
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.”
Anheuser-Busch, whose products have steadily lost market share in recent years, aired a Super Bowl ad titled “Brewed the Hard Way, which made fun of craft beer and the people who enjoy it. The craft beer community wasted no time firing back.
One of the best critiques came from Jim Vorel, Paste magazine’s news editor. He led off by telling his readers that he’d been to the Budweiser Research Pilot Brewery and met the people who work there.
Vorel then opened fire on “Brewed the Hard Way”. A few of his comments:
- “So, what if right after we say it’s not to be fussed over, we IMMEDIATELY trumpet the fact that it’s beechwood aged, something that roughly 1% of our target demographic understands?”
- “Please, if at all possible, try not to taste our beer. If you’re able to disable your gag reflex and just pour it straight down your gullet and into your stomach in one fell swoop while bypassing the taste buds altogether, that would be ideal.”
- “Anheuser is literally mocking the consumers of the COMPANIES THEY NOW OWN. Honestly, how devastating is that for the Elysian brewing team? Your owners think your customers are pretentious hipsters. These are the people who own your business.”
Finally, Vorel notes that the “pumpkin peach beer” A-B made fun of in the ad, and which a company executive called “a fabricated, ludicrous flavor combination,” is being brewed by a company that A-B is in the process of buying. About that he says, “We’re at Irony Defcon 1, people.”
On this day in 1919, the 18th Amendment, which ushered in national Prohibition, became part of the U.S. Constitution. The 14-year-long ban on “intoxicating” beverages, which meant anything with more than 0.5 percent alcohol, had a profound effect on the United States—an effect that persists to this day.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Rhode Island—one of two states that didn’t ratify the 18th Amendment—where Narragansett Beer has launched a four-beer series honoring H.P. Lovecraft, the master of horror fiction who lived in Providence.
In the San Francisco Bay area, the latest trend is “activity bars”, which offer giant basketball Plinko games, oversize Jenga sets, and bowling alleys along with local craft beers.
According to CBS MoneyWatch’s Kim Peterson, plunging gas prices is good news for breweries. The average motorist stands to save $700 this year, some of which might be spent on beer.
Newcastle Brown Ale is back at it, sponsoring a Super Bowl “ambush ad” and inviting other non-“official” brands to join in. Last year’s ad featured an extended rant by actress Anna Kendrick.
Caveat emptor. Fortune magazine’s Brad Tuttle names five “imported” beers that are brewed in the United States: Kirin, Beck’s, Foster’s, Killian’s, and—believe it or not—Red Stripe.
Pennsylvania’s Snitz Creek Brewery is incorporating a local specialty—Lebanon bologna—into one of its beers. Snitz Creek has also brewed beers using local pretzels and opera fudge.
Finally, Anheuser-Busch offers another reason not to over-indulge. In this year’s “Up for Whatever” Super Bowl ad, a Bud Light drinker gets pulled into a life-size Pac-Man game after a night out. Imagine running from Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde while fighting a hangover.
The Most Interesting Man in the World has competition. Michel de Carvalho, the son of a Brazilian father and and a British mother, is an MBA from Harvard, a three-time Olympic competitor, and a high-ranking investment banker at Citigroup.
So why is he being mentioned on this blog? Because he married Charlene Heineken, the only child of beer baron Freddy Heineken and 25-percent owner of Heineken International. Her shares make the couple worth an estimated $11 billion.
Earlier this year, the brewery contacted Patricia Sellers of Fortune magazine, and proposed that she interview the de Carvalhos. Even though Charlene has been publicity-shy, she saw Heineken’s 150th birthday as an opportunity to talk about her life and her family business.
One interesting story involves Anheuser-Busch. After Freddy Heineken died, August Busch III–the Busches and de Carvalhos were friendly rivals—suggested that the two companies help one other expand their distribution. A Heineken-Busch joint venture is one of the industry’s more intriguing historical “what-ifs.”
In September, Charlene rejected an unsolicited bid by SABMiller. Meanwhile, Michel is trying to grow Heineken in a rapidly-consolidating industry. Michel feels the heavy responsibility that goes with being part of a family business. He said to Sellers, “One of the things that drives me is the thought that one guy [Freddy] is constantly looking down and wondering whether we’re going to **** it up.”