British parliament votes out pub ‘tie’

November 19th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Members of Parliament have voted to allow British pub tenants to buy beer from any supplier they want, effectively ending the “beer tie” that has required landlords to buy beer from the companies that own their pubs.

The MPs voted 284-269 against the government and for a clause in the Small Business Bill that allows pub owners to buy beer on the open market. The amendment means no longer have to buy beer from their parent pub company and could seek a contract where they would only pay rent on the property.

The Campaign for Real Ale, whose members lobbied to end the tie, praised the vote. Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive said: “Today’s landmark Parliamentary vote helps secure the future of pubs. CAMRA is delighted that, after ten years of our campaigning, MPs have today voted to introduce a market rent only option for licensees tied to the large pub companies – a move that will secure the future of the Great British Pub.

“This simple choice should spell the end of pubco licensees being forced out of business through high rents and tied product prices. Thank you to the 8000 CAMRA members and campaigners who lobbied their local MP to help make this happen and to those MPs that voted to support pubs. CAMRA are now urging the Government to accept the outcome of the vote.”

The surprising results left the pub industry in upheavel. Before the vote, the British Beer & Pub Association warned if the rebellion succeeds, 1,400 pubs would close and 7,000 jobs would be lost. Brigid Simmonds, BBPA’s chief executive, said: “Without ‘the tie’ many much-loved British breweries, robbed of their existing market through their own pubs, would also have to close.”

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Massachusetts ‘pay-to-play’ probe steps up

November 14th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

The Boston Globe reports Massachusetts regulators have issued subpoenas — indicating the investigation into charges of “pay-to-play” that came to light last month is getting serious — to “breweries, beer distributors, and retailers for records to determine whether they are paying for, or demanding payments for, access to bar taps in pubs and restaurants and shelf space at stores.”

Dan Paquette of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project kicked things off with a late night rant on Twitter. He wrote that two bars owned by the Wilcox Hospitality Group — Lower Depths and Bukowski Tavern — were asking brewers to pay in order to be put on the bars’ draft lines. Thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of words were exchanged on Twitter, in blogs, and on internet discussion boards in the next days.

“We’re looking at any and all forms of inducements,” Frederick Mahoney, chief investigator for the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, told the Globe. “This is ongoing, and this may not stop here.” He declined to identify which companies were under investigation.

A spokesman for Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the ABCC, warned the agency was prepared to take “strong corrective measures” against any company that violates the state’s liquor control laws. Punishment for these types of violations could range from warnings to suspension of a company’s liquor license or even revocation.

The Globe report indicates many breweries have been contacted or received subpoenas and includes their reactions.

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Schell moves to preserve Grain Belt sign

November 13th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Grain Belt sign, Minneapolis

The Grain Belt beer sign that has been a Minneapolis landmark since the 1940s but dark for almost 20 years apparently may soon be lit again. August Schell Brewing Co., which acquired the Grain Belt brand in 2002, announced it will buy the sign and the Nicollet Island land it sits on and donate it to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. The organization plans to raise money to light and maintain the sign.

“People love the sign,” Schell president Ted Marti said. Schell, located in New Ulm, is the second oldest family owned brewery in the country.

Minneapolis Brewing Co., which brewed Grain Belt until selling the grand to Schell, originally leased the sign from the Eastman Family. It was moved to its current location on the Mississippi river in 1950 after first sitting atop the Marigold Ballroom. The Eastman Family Trust currently owns the sign.

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Green Flash, Alpine will ‘join forces’

November 10th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Green Flash Brewing and Alpine Beer Company have announced a unique partnerships in which the breweries “will join forces, teaming up to share resources, knowledge and experience.” In a press release, Alpine founders Pat and Val McIlhenney and Green Flash founders Mike and Lisa described the affiliation as mutually beneficial. The press release describes the deal:

Each company will remain independently operated and maintain its distinct brand and culture. Pat will remain Alpine’s President and Brewmaster to oversee all operations of Alpine Beer Company while also ensuring Alpine beers continue to meet his unwavering standard of quality, whether brewed at the Alpine or Green Flash facilities. The most notable change will transpire over the next several years, as Alpine beer will become available to their legions of fans from across the country who have only experienced the greatness of Alpine beers while visiting California.

In a “handshake agreement,” Green Flash began brewing Alpine beer in November 2013 at their San Diego facility with the goal of helping longtime friends at Alpine raise capital to expand their production capacity. Green Flash has been producing three of Alpine’s brews (Nelson, Hoppy Birthday and Duet), increasing Alpine annual production from 1500 to 3000 BBLs.

The experience of brewing together has been a successful learning experience for both breweries. Green Flash Brewmaster, Chuck Silva divulged, “It was both intriguing and challenging to meld our philosophies while we worked together to scale up Pat’s recipes to be brewed in larger quantities. We worked together to stay true to the original beer and were very happy with the ultimate results. Working with a close friend is a real treat, but for me, brewing with Pat and making Alpine beers, is yet another highlight of my brewing career in San Diego.”

The successful arrangement they have shared over the past year was the impetus that prompted the breweries to take their relationship to the next level. Each views the partnership as an organic evolution that will benefit both of their operations in many ways. “Our team was thrilled to be able to brew the awesome beer from Alpine when we began teaming up,” says Mike Hinkley of Green Flash. “The excitement of our brewers is what prompted me to think about additional ways we could work together and help each other. We perceive this solid new partnership as an incredible opportunity to continue to explore our craft while benefiting from the passion and experience of Pat McIlhenney.”

“After working with Green Flash for the past year, I have come to truly trust and deeply respect the entire Green Flash operation – Chuck and all of their brewers are meticulous, yet easygoing, and I am comfortable working with the team,” says Pat McIlhenney of Alpine Beer Co. “There are many benefits in teaming up with Green Flash as a partner. Not only are they committed to producing high-quality beer, the company culture and mom and pop roots of Green Flash are very similar to our own.”

Alpine employs 20 people, is distributed exclusively in California with the ability to produce a maximum of 1500 BBLs from their San Diego County brew-house, with most of their beer sold directly from their on-site pub. Brewing capacity limitations have made it impossible for Pat and his team to support the overwhelming demand for their exceptional products. As partners, Alpine will be able to tap into the growing Green Flash team of talented brewers, their production capacity, access to capital, and human resources in operations and administration. Mike added that “I am hopeful that the culmination of the next few years will be that, together, we build a new production facility in Alpine. Maybe we will even brew some Green Flash ale in Alpine.”

“I know there is strength in unity, which will allow both of our breweries to secure even higher quality ingredients – we will be a great force as a team,” exclaims Pat. “However, the most important advantage is how this partnership will help improve the quality of life for my employees. For the first time, Alpine will be able to offer our team an excellent company benefits package including affordable health care, 401K plans and other perks made possible by this exciting partnership.”

In 2015, Green Flash will begin bottling select Alpine brews in 22oz bottles adding to the three current draft offerings. Collaborative brews are already in Chuck and Pat’s top-secret conversations, so consumers can expect these to appear in their tasting rooms and at the best craft beer bars in Southern California. The two Brewmasters are already talking about how they can work together at Green Flash’s Cellar 3, a special barrel-aged beer packaging facility that is currently under construction in Poway, and will include a cork-finish bottling line.

Chuck said, “I consulted Pat and borrowed some of his ideas when I made our tenth anniversary Flanders-style ale, which was a great success and will be recreated at Cellar 3. I am always on the look-out for ideas. With Pat and me on the same team, you can count on us to push the envelope even further.”

Mike summarizes, “This partnership is win-win-win. Green Flash wins because we are teaming up with a truly iconic brewery. Alpine wins because they get to see their beers enjoyed by so many more of their adoring fans. But most of all, beer geeks everywhere win, because Chuck and Pat will be working together to create beers that will blow their minds.”

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Anheuser-Busch acquires 10 Barrel Brewing

November 5th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Anheuser-Busch today announced it has agreed to purchase 10 Barrel Brewing Company, located in Bend, Ore.

From the press release:

“For the past eight years, we’ve been brewing beer, drinking beer and having fun doing it.” said co-founder Jeremy Cox, who will continue to lead 10 Barrel along with his partners, co-founder and brother Chris Cox, and Garrett Wales. “We are excited to stay focused on brewing cool beers, get our beers in more hands, and make the most of the operational and distribution expertise of Anheuser-Busch,” said Cox.

10 Barrel expects to sell approximately 40,000 barrels of beer in 2014. Apocalypse IPA, the brewer’s most popular beer, accounts for nearly half of the company’s total volume.

“10 Barrel, its brewers, and their high-quality beers are an exciting addition to our high-end portfolio,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The brewery is a major contender in the Northwest, an area with a large number of craft breweries. We see tremendous value in the brewery’s unique offerings and differentiated style, which 10 Barrel fans know and love.”

In addition to the Bend brewery, the acquisition will include the company’s existing brewpubs in Bend and Boise, Idaho; and a Portland brewpub scheduled to open in early 2015.

Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of 10 Barrel is expected to close by the end of 2014. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Earlier this year Anheuser-Busch acquired New York-based Blue Point Brewing.

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Stone Brewing picks Virginia site for East Coast brewery

October 9th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co. has announced it has signed a formal letter of intent with the City of Richmond, Virginia, signifying the company’s interest in building its East Coast facility in the city’s Greater Fulton Community. Subject to local approvals, Stone plans to invest $74 million to construct a production brewery, packaging hall, destination restaurant, retail store and its administrative offices. Construction of the facilities will occur in phases. The brewery is anticipated to be operational in late 2015 or early 2016, with Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens opening a year or two after that. Ultimately, the company will employ more than 288 people.

More details from a company press release:

“The search for our location east of the Mississippi River was no easy endeavor,” said Stone President and Co-founder Steve Wagner. “We received and reviewed hundreds of proposals, visited more than 40 sites, and received quite a bit of attention from communities and craft beer fans. The three finalist cities each provided diverse offerings, however, we decided to begin next-step negotiations with Richmond because of their ability to meet our extensive site requirements, subject to the city’s approval. We also feel that Richmond’s vibrant energy and impressive craft beer culture, along with the uniqueness of the property, will allow us to create a truly memorable Stone experience for our fans. We are honored by the amount of time and effort all the communities that submitted proposals put forth, and we want to specifically thank Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones for welcoming us.”

Adds Stone CEO and Co-founder Greg Koch, “A facility on the East Coast will allow us to meet demand for our beer, ensure we are providing our fans with the freshest beer possible and also serve as a distribution hub for states located east of the Mississippi. We look forward to becoming an integral part of the lively craft beer community in Richmond, the state of Virginia and the entire eastern U.S.”

Stone anticipates building a 200,000 square-foot production brewery and distribution facility on 14 acres of land. Equipped with a 250-barrel brewhouse, the brewery will produce year-round and special-release beers to be bottled, kegged and distributed, as well as enjoyed on-site. The company also plans to renovate a two-story, 30,000 square-foot building, transforming it into a destination restaurant spanning four acres and highlighting locally grown organic food, complementing the harmonious nature and seasonality of the location’s surroundings. The restaurant will feature beautifully landscaped gardens where visitors will be able to enjoy craft beer, dine and relax in an inviting atmosphere.

“Today’s announcement marks the fruition of months of partnership and aggressive efforts to show Stone Brewing Co. that Virginia is the best state for its new craft beer production and hospitality facility,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “The company received submissions from more than 20 states, and the Commonwealth of Virginia was selected. This competitive, high-profile project really puts Virginia on the map and cements our standing as a serious player in the craft beer industry. In addition to Stone’s significant investment and more than 288 new jobs, the far-reaching economic benefits of this operation are innumerable. The City of Richmond offers the infrastructure, available site and building, and natural resources that will allow the company to thrive and grow, and we are confident that Stone will benefit from the Commonwealth’s excellent business environment for years to come. Today is an achievement of great magnitude, and we are excited to welcome Stone Brewing Co. to Virginia.”

“We are thrilled about Stone’s decision to choose Richmond as its East Coast production and distribution facility location,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “After competing with 20 other states, we are so pleased that Stone has discovered those attributes that make Richmond a great place to do business. The fact that they have chosen a site in the Greater Fulton Community underscores their understanding of the rich history and natural assets that we have to offer. As they bring their unique craft beer and visionary business model here, I look forward to the many opportunities that lay ahead with Stone.”

This is the second expansion announcement Stone has made this year. In July, the company unveiled it will become the first American craft brewer to independently own and operate a brewery in Europe with the opening of Stone Brewing Co.—Berlin.

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Beer writers honored

October 7th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

The North American Guild of Beer Writers (NAGBW) has announced winners in its 2nd annual competition for writers, bloggers and broadcasters.

Best Beer and Food Writing
1. John Holl, “Roast Masters: Exploring the Art of Brewing Beer with Coffee.” All About Beer Magazine.
2. Evan Rail, “Where What Is Brewing Is a Recipe.” The New York Times.
3. Mark Dredge, Beer and Food. Dog ‘n’ Bone Books.

Best Blog
1. Oliver Gray, “Literature and Libation.” Literatureandlibation.com
2. Bryan Roth, “This is Why I’m Drunk.” Thisiswhyimdrunk.wordpress.com
3. Jessica Miller, “Hey Brewtiful.” Heybrewtiful.com

Best Book
1. Patrick Dawson, Vintage Beer. Storey Publishing.
2. Tim Webb/ Joe Stange, The Good Beer Guide to Belgium. Campaign for Real Ale Ltd.
3. Evan Rail, Beer Trails: The Brewery in the Bohemian Forest. Self-published.

Best Brewspaper/Free Zine Writing
1. Ken Weaver, “Getting Hopped Up — Again.” Bohemian.
2. Jonathan Shikes, “Avery Brewing’s got good taste — and the science to back it up.” Westword.
3. Randy Clemens, “Mark Jilg: The Craftsman.” West Coaster.

Best Magazine Writing
1. Evan Rail, “Born Again in Berlin.” All About Beer Magazine.
2. Joshua Bernstein, “Of a Certain Age.” Imbibe Magazine.
3. Aleszu Bajak, “Stemming the Rise of Barley Disease.” Beeradvocate Magazine.

Best Newspaper Writing (Paid Circulation)
1. Ronnie Crocker, “Crafting a Houston Icon.” Houston Chronicle.
2. William Bostwick, “Build a Beer Collection.” The Wall Street Journal.
3. Tom Acitelli, “Rising Hop Prices Make Craft Brewers Jumpy.” The Wall Street Journal.

Best Online Magazine Writing
1. Gerard Walen, “The Death of Hunahpu’s Day.” All About Beer Magazine (online).
2. Austin Ray, “Headbanger’s Brew: A History of Heavy Metal and Craft Beer Collaborations.” First We Feast.
3. Christian DeBenedetti, “A Brief History of Sour Beer.” The New Yorker (online).

Best Podcast
1. Strange Brews Podcast. Strangebrewspodcast.tumblr.com
2. Tales from the Cask. Talesfromthecask.com
3. What’s on Tap. Kprcradio.com/media/podcast-whats-on-tap-whatsontap

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