US OKs AB InBev-SABMiller deal

July 20th, 2016 | Posted by Real Beer

Anheuser-Busch InBev has won U.S. antitrust approval for its takeover of SABMiller. Bloomberg News reports the company will sell SABMiller’s stake in MillerCoors and refrain from practices that restrict distribution of smaller, competing brands, according to a court filing Wednesday in Washington.

AB InBev will be required to seek DOJ review of any future acquisitions of beer distributors or craft beer brands. “The remedy we secured will help preserve and promote competition in the multi-billion dollar U.S. beer industry,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sonia Pfaffenroth of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

Following the announcement, Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, released the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to approve the acquisition of SABMiller by ABI stipulates many of the safeguards the Brewers Association requested to preserve fair competition and access to market for America’s small and independent craft brewers.

“While we continue to believe that the merger of the world’s two largest brewers is bad for both the beer industry and consumers, the DOJ’s significant requirements, including the termination of incentive programs such as the Voluntary Anheuser Busch Incentive for Performance Program (VAIP), a cap on ABI’s self-distribution volume and other measures to protect distributor independence, appear to address some of our major apprehensions with the merger. With effective enforcement of these provisions, small brewers can rely on their independent distributor partners to access the market. This will help ensure that beer enthusiasts can continue to enjoy a vast variety of options from the more than 4,600 breweries in the U.S.

“The Brewers Association will closely examine the consent decree and compliance with its provisions, as well as monitor ABI’s actions, specifically with regard to the acquisition of independent craft brewers. We remain concerned about how past, pending and future acquisitions may shift the dynamics of the current beer market. We will continue to encourage the DOJ to monitor and, where necessary, take action to remedy any anticompetitive effects of ABI’s behavior in the U.S.”

AB InBev still needs clearance from China before the deal can close. Last month, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News that Chinese officials were close to an agreement after the companies agreed to divest the maker of Snow beer, the world’s top-selling brand.

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Miller takes majority stake in Terrapin Beer

July 20th, 2016 | Posted by Real Beer

Tenth and Blake Beer Company, a division of MillerCoors, announced an agreement to acquire a majority interest in Terrapin Beer Company. Tenth and Blake has owned a minority nterest in the Georgia brewery since 2012.

“Bringing Tenth and Blake on years ago allowed us to get to know each other better and realize the incredible potential of becoming a majority-owned partner with Tenth and Blake and MillerCoors,” Terrapin co-founder said Brian “Spike” Buckowski said in a press release. “With Tenth and Blake’s dedication to helping us grow and their passion for creating high-quality craft beers, we knew it would be the perfect partnership. We look forward to continuing to create innovative beers to share with beer lovers nationwide.”

Terrapin Beer Company will operate as a business unit of Tenth and Blake. Terrapin’s management and team will remain.

“The team at Terrapin is so passionate and committed to brewing such terrific beers that we are thrilled to welcome them deeper into the Tenth and Blake family,” said Scott Whitley, president and CEO of Tenth and Blake. “As owners, our job is to work collaboratively with their team to support their continued success with their innovative, award-winning beers that complement our portfolio perfectly.”

The other components of the Tenth and Blake portfolio include Blue Moon Brewing Company, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company and Saint Archer Brewing Company.

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Newest Game of Thrones beer called Valar Dohaeris

July 19th, 2016 | Posted by Real Beer

Games of Thrones Valar Dohaeris Tripel AleBrewery Ommegang has introduced the newest beer in its Games of Thrones series and will also bring back another. Valar Dohaeris Tripel Ale is the latest beer in the series, and will be available in a variety of different packages as well as alongside previously released sister-brew Valar Morghulis.

Fans of Game of Thrones know that “Valar Morghulis” means “All Men Must Die” in High Valyrian and is traditionally answered with the phrase “Valar Dohaeris,” which means “All Men Must Serve.” Label art for both bottles features the two-headed coin, given to Arya Stark by Jaqen H’ghar, which gained her passage to Braavos at the end of Season 5. Arya spent most of Season 6 in Braavos training to become a faceless assassin, making the naming of the latest beer and the decision to re-release Valar Morghulis a no-brainer.

“Of the classic Belgian styles, the dubbel and the tripel are two of our favorites to brew, and both are styles we’re particularly well known for,” Ommegang brewmaster Phil Leinhart said for a company press release. “I love the idea of releasing them together side-by-side. It is such a great way to experience them. They are also pretty hearty and should age nicely over time, so fans can stock up to last them through the winter and to fill the void until next season.”

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Lagunitas buys stake in three smaller breweries

June 29th, 2016 | Posted by Real Beer

Lagunitas Brewing announced that it is taking a stake in three breweries in different parts of the country and it will open up buildings in Portland, Oregon, and San Diego that nonprofits can use for fundraisers. Financial terms of the investments were not disclosed. The purchases were all funded by Lagunitas and did not require any capital outlay from Heineken, which bought a 50 percent share of Lagunitas last year.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Lagunitas founder Tony Magee said, “I would call it expansion. In consolidation, you’re looking for synergies and bringing efficiencies and trying to shrink the pool of competitors. This is really about all of us expanding our experience base, our understanding of things and growing our businesses at the same time.”

The stakes are in Southend Brewery and Smokehouse in Charleston, S.C., Independence Brewing Co. in Austin, Texas, and Moonlight Brewing in Santa Rosa, Calif.

“These aren’t conquests … it’s not for scale,” Magee told a local newspaper. “This a thread to make more local connections.”

Moonlight founder Brian Hunt said the opportunity “to secure Moonlight’s future into the next generation” was the driving factor along with his friendship of Magee, who he has known since 1993.

“I’m almost 60 now and I don’t know how long I’m going to keep doing this,” said Hunt. “I got other things going on my life. I don’t want to run a brewery until the day I fall under.”

When asked by the Tribune if there would be more deals, Magee answered, “Oh, yeah. I want to do more than three. I want to make a bunch of these relationships. This is a beginning, not an end point of anything.”

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Ballast Point to build Virginia brewery

May 24th, 2016 | Posted by Real Beer

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits will invest $47.8 million to establish an East Coast brewing operation in Botetourt County.

“I am thrilled to announce that Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits will join the Commonwealth’s world-class, award-winning roster of craft breweries,”the governor said in a press release. “Winning this significant project was a top priority, and we are proud that Botetourt County will be home to the company’s East Coast brewing operation. Virginia has truly become a leader in the industry and a destination for craft beer lovers. Today is another milestone of our ongoing success in diversifying and building a new Virginia economy, and we look forward to Ballast Point thriving in the Commonwealth.”

“This project is great news for the growing tourism, manufacturing and craft beverage sectors in the Roanoke Valley and the Commonwealth,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones said in the press release. “Ballast Point’s decision to locate its East Coast operation in Virginia is a strong testament to our great talent, strategic location and superior business climate. Additionally, the company will benefit from our outstanding workforce training programs. Congratulations to Botetourt County and Ballast Point. We look forward to a long, prosperous partnership.”

Ballast Point began selling beer in 1996, brewing in the back of a San Diego homebrew shop.

Last November, Constellation Brands acquired the company for approximately $1 billion. Ballast Point is one of the fastest growing craft beer companies in the U.S., its best sellers being Sculpin IPA and Grapefruit Sculpin IPA. At that time, it was announced Ballast Point will continue to operate as a stand-alone company with its existing management team and employees running the day-to-day operations.

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Brooklyn Brewery to move into Navy Yard

May 16th, 2016 | Posted by Real Beer

Brooklyn Brewery will move its headquarters to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Wall Street Journal reports the company is leasing 75,000 square feet at Building 77, a 1-million-square-foot industrial warehouse. Plans call for for the Brooklyn Brewery’s space to open in 2018.

The space is slated to include offices and a beer garden, as well as an area for manufacturing and a pub in the building’s food-manufacturing hub.

The Navy Yard, established in 1801, produced warships for the U.S. Navy through World War II. After closing as a naval yard in 1966, the site has emerged as a popular hub for manufacturing, industrial and creative businesses.

“For generations, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was behind a wall,” Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. president David Ehrenberg said. “But the nature of the yard is really changing. We want to open it up to the public to show that things are still being made in Brooklyn.” Brooklyn Brewery has signed a 40-year lease.

Brooklyn Brewery will remain in Williamsburg until its three leases end in 2025, co-founder Steve Hindy said. After that, he hopes to maintain a retail space or potentially a brewpub at that location.

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Smithsonian to document craft beer history

May 4th, 2016 | Posted by Real Beer

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced today at the Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia that it will launch a three-year initiative to “collect, document and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers and the beer industry to explore how the beverage and brewing connect to larger themes in American history.”

A press release stated that the initiative is made possible through a donation from the Brewers Association. It added:

Museum staff have researched and documented American food and beverage history for more than two decades and will work with the Brewers Association, American brewers and beer historians to document and collect the stories and history of modern American brewing. Beer and brewing have been an important part of the American experience since before the nation’s founding and into the present day, and beer production for the past 30 years has been connected to significant social, cultural, economic and environmental movements across the country. The team will explore the unique connections between brewing and broader themes, including advertising, agriculture, industry, innovation, business and community life.

“Brewing has a long and deep connection to our country’s history, and the museum’s collections explore the history of beer from the late 19th to early 20th centuries,” said John Gray, the director of the museum. “The support of the Brewers Association allows our staff to collect the more recent history, including the impact of small and independent craft brewers who continue to advance the U.S. beer culture and inspire brewers worldwide.

The museum currently houses several small collections related to brewing and beer consumption in America. The bulk dates from the 1870–1960s.

“The craft brewing revolution in America has had a profound social, cultural and economic impact on this country,” Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, said for the press release. “America is a beer destination. We are honored to support this effort and work with the National Museum of American History to chronicle and showcase the significant achievements small and independent brewers have made throughout this nation’s history.”

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