Pelican Brands acquires Napa Smith Brewery & Winery

An investment group led by J. Smoke Wallin has finalized the purchase of Napa Smith Brewery & Winery, making it part of a family of companies which includes Pelican Brands. Napa Smith Beer is currently in 17 states, and will be available nationally by the summer of 2011. Earlier this year, Napa Smith appointed Pelican Brands as its exclusive sales representatives in the United States.

For the press release announcing the deal had closed:

J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman & CEO of Pelican Brands and Napa Smith Holdings, said, “The craft beer business is the fastest growing category of beverage alcohol in America. Napa Smith has all the right attributes to become one of the few truly global brands of craft beer – amazing beer from one of the most respected names in the craft brewing industry, distinctive packaging, Napa terroir. These attributes combined with our Pelican Brands global distribution capability, experienced management team and our access to capital give us all the necessary elements to achieve great success.” Wallin continued, “This acquisition is a great strategic fit combined with Pelican Brands as we build a global sales and brand platform, of both owned and agency brands. We look forward to building Napa Smith into an iconic craft beer brand with President Steve Morgan and Master Brewer Don Barkley.”

Steve Morgan, President & COO of Napa Smith Holdings stated, “This is a very positive development for our business. In 2010 Napa Smith – through Pelican’s sales and distribution platform – has expanded into 17 states. With the capital, resources and relationships that Pelican brings to the mix, our beer will be available nationally by mid 2011. Napa has become known world-wide for great wines, and deservedly so. We are proud to hand-craft our beer here in Napa Valley with the same level of quality and attention to detail that built Napa’s global reputation.”

Don Barkley, Master Brewer said, “I’m doing what I love to do – brewing great beer. Smoke and the whole Pelican team are my kind of people. They appreciate the importance of brewing beer right. At the same time, they bring scale and resources that will help Napa Smith reach many more thirsty consumers, which is something I’m passionate about!”


Tour de Fat raises $331,428 for charities

Tour de Fat, New Belgium Brewing’s “traveling carnival of all things bicycle,” raised $331,428 for non-profit friends in 2010, which is up nearly 20% from 2009. The tour attracted 70,250 cycling and beer fans celebrants in 13 cities. From the press release:

Tour de Fat is free to attend, but money raised from the sale of New Belgium beers and merchandise helps local organizations continue their good work of bicycle advocacy and environmental stewardship. In 2008, Tour de Fat broke the $1 million mark and the grand total now stands at more than $1.5 million. To see videos from some of the 2010 tour stops visit

In addition to raising money at every stop, Tour de Fat also swapped 13 cars for bikes. This year marked the fourth year that Tour de Fat hosted the car-for-bike swap, where someone in each city trades in his or her vehicle for a hand-built commuter bike. The volunteer then commits to living car-free for the next year.

For example, in Chicago, New Belgium selected “Iggi” Ignaczak to become the first car swapper of the season. Iggi is an avid cyclist who is not afraid to ride his bike in the 16-below temperatures of a Chicago winter. His work commute now consists of six miles of bike riding each day, plus a 35-minute train ride, instead of the 18-mile, one-hour and 20-minute drive he had before. Iggi even built a bike trailer for his dog Winston, so he can go along on some of his journeys.

“People always ask me what I’m doing out on a bike in 10 degree weather,” said Iggi. “I tell them the story of Tour de Fat and how I traded in a car for the bike. Almost always, if not met with a response of ‘oh, you’re crazy’, people are impressed.”

“I can almost see the gears in their heads grinding, and considering if that is something they can do themselves,” he added. “I always say that if I can do it, so can they.”

In addition to getting thirteen cars off the road, Tour de Fat aims to minimize its impact by composting and recycling waste. The waste diversion rate for this season was 91 percent. Other Tour de Fat sustainable initiatives included traveling with a solar-powered stage, using biofuel sourced from recycled waste oils for trucks and transport, and having all vendors operate off the grid.

“We join our nonprofit partners in thanking all attendees,” spokesman Bryan Simpson said for the press release. “We’d like to high five each person who supported our efforts, but since that’s a little tricky, we’d like to thank everyone for their tremendous support.”

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Chinese giant Tsingtao takes over another brewery

The Tsingtao Brewery — China’s largest — has agreed to buy the Shandong Yinmai Beer Co., the third brewery it has taken over in two years.

Wang Fan, vice chairman of Tsingtao Brewery, said the deal would consolidate Tsingtao Beer’s dominance in the market in Shandong amid fierce competition. Yinmai will continue to make Yinmai beer. This is different from Tsingtao’s takeover of two other local breweries of Yantai Beer and Baotu Spring Beer, whose trademark beers disappeared.

Tsingtao Brewery, which was founded in 1903 in Qingdao City, is best known for the internationally distributed Tsingtao beer.


Breckenridge, Wynkoop enter joint venture

The parent companies of two Denver-based breweries, Wynkoop Holdings and Breckenridge Holding Co., announced they will enter into a 50-50 joint venture early next year.

Spokespersons emphasized that Wynkoop, which owns the Wynkoop Brewing Co. and six other restaurants, and Breckenridge, which operates Breckenridge Brewery and five brewpubs, will not merge their identities, their brands or their staffs. The new joint venture will have one board of managers overseeing it.

The agreement will allow the two companies to leverage each other’s facilities and expertise as both look to expand certain aspects of their businesses.

Wynkoop will use Breckenridge’s brewing facility to grow its year-old beer-canning efforts, and Breckenridge will employ Wynkoop officials’ expertise in the restaurant business as it seeks to increase the number of ale-house restaurants it operates.

“We get to each develop our own identities and continue to grow and improve them,” Wynkoop spokesman Marty Jones said. “Together we have more power to do good things for the craft-brewing industry in the state.” He said leaders of the two companies began talking about a joint venture as long as four years ago.

Wynkoop Holdings also operates five other Denver restaurants — Wazee Supper Club, Goosetown Tavern, Cherry Cricket, Pearl Street Grill and Gaetano’s — and Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. brewpub in Colorado Springs.

Breckenridge Brewing opened in Breckenridge in 1990 and expanded shortly thereafter to Denver. Breckenridge Holding Co. now operates the brewery, a Breckenridge brewpub, a brewpub nears Coors Field, a brewpub on Kalamath Street and an ale house restaurant in Grand Junction, all bearing the Breckenridge name. It will open a second ale-house restaurant in Denver’s Lower Highlands neighborhood in the spring.

“It’s not a merger. We will not be co-branding beers. We do want to maintain our individual brand identities,” said Terry Usry, Breckenridge public relations manager. “We’ll feed off the synergies we have. In many ways, the two concepts are very much alike.”

Breckenridge president Ed Cerkovnik made the same point. “This is a marriage of opportunity and not necessity,” he says. “Both companies want to grow and expand. The combined company provides us with a platform to more effectively and rapidly do that.”


Spanish brewery takes stake in United States Beverage

S.A. Damm, one of Spain’s largest beverage companies, has taken a minority stake in United States Beverage. US Beverage currently imports and markets Estrella Damm, INEDIT and Daura in the United States for Damm.

“I’m excited by this partnership particularly because I believe our business across the entire portfolio will benefit,” Joseph Fisch, president and CEO of US Beverage, said for a press release. “The investment will provide USB with greater stability, market power and resources, enhancing our ability to optimize the position for all of our brands.”

“Group Damm’s goal is to be the leader in each sector in which we compete,” said Jorge Villavecchia, CEO, S. A. Damm. “In looking for access to the lucrative US market, we wanted to find the right partner, with a proven track record for building great brands. US Beverage has proven through their performance that they are the ideal partner for us in the US.”

The USB management team will continue to manage all aspects of the company. The company plans to increase its sales force in major markets throughout the US.

“Through a combination of smart marketing and focused sales, every brand in our portfolio has experienced double-digit growth year to date,” Fisch said. “With the additional resources that we’ll be adding in terms of increased personnel and brand spending, our outlook for 2011 is equally strong.”


Samuel Adams/Weihenstephan Infinium due in December

Samuel Adams & Weihenstephan InfiniumThe much anticipated release of a collaboration beer between the Boston Beer Company and German’s Weihenstephan has been set for early December.

Infinium has been two years in the making with brewery founder Jim Koch riding point for Samuel Adams and Dr. Josef Schrädler, manager director, for Weihenstephan. A press release describes the beer as the “first new beer style created under the Reinheitsgebot (German’s beer purity law that dictates beer should be made from only from malted grains, hops, yeast and water) in over a hundred years.”

Infinium is packaged in 750ml cork-finished bottles and contains 10.3 percent alcohol by volume. The suggested retail for a bottle is $19.99.

“Dr. Schrädler and I are thrilled to uncork Infinium, and introduce not only a first-class beer, but a new standard in the art of brewing,” Koch said. “When I brewed the first batch of Samuel Adams Boston Lager in my kitchen in 1984, it challenged America’s perception of what beer could be. At the time, beer drinkers weren’t used to bigger, more flavorful brews that used high-quality, traditional ingredients and followed the age-old Reinheitsgebot purity law. Infinium continues to challenge people’s perception of beer in a very different way, making this partnership unique. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented brewers in the world during this project.”

“It was exciting to work with Jim and the brewers at Samuel Adams to stretch the limits of Reinheitsgebot during the creation of Infinium,” Schrädler said. “This beer is truly a marriage of the German brewing heritage that our brewery has upheld for almost a thousand years, combined with new, innovative brewing techniques that take beer beyond what anyone expected to be possible under the constraints of the purity law.”


Brewers Association seeks to clarify beer-caffeine rules

The Brewers Association has announced that it will formally petition the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to “conduct rulemaking on alcoholic energy drinks.”

The goal would be to allow brewers to continue to use ingredients such as coffee and chocolate in making beer.

The association’s action comes at the same time that U.S Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will rule that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic beverages, effectively making products such as Four Loko, Joose, and others like them, prohibited for sale in the United States. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans to notify manufacturers that they are engaged in the potential illegal marketing of unsafe alcoholic drinks.

The Brewers Association states its petition “seeks to disallow synthetic and pure caffeine additions to alcohol beverages, but allow incidental caffeine from ingredients that have a long tradition in brewing, such as coffee, chocolate and tea. The petition seeks to clarify that coffee, chocolate, herbs, spices, seeds and fruit are ingredients that should remain available to brewers to make beers for responsible enjoyment by beer drinkers.”

It adds, “The goal of this federal petition is to provide a clear and consistent national standard to assist state-based rulemaking under the 21st Amendment. This standard would remove the products of concern from shelves without creating unintended damage to the hundreds of craft brewers who, for many years, have been using traditional ingredients like coffee, tea and chocolate to responsibly craft interesting and flavorful beers.”

Brewers Association president Charlie Papazian said, “Responsible brewers have successfully used coffee, chocolate and tea to add interesting flavor and complexity to their beers for decades. In fact, the Aztecs brewed a corn, honey and chili-based beer that contained cocoa. Many craft brewers build on these traditions today using coffee, tea and chocolate. On the other hand, the addition of artificial caffeine not from a natural ingredient source has no heritage or tradition in brewing. We support a ban on the direct addition of caffeine.”


Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch chains merge

Centerbridge Capital Partners today announced today the formation of CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, essentially a merger of the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group and Rock Bottom Restaurants, which operates both brewery restaurants and the Old Chicago casual dining chain. The companies will be subsidiaries of CraftWorks and will retain their brands.

“The combined business becomes the nation’s leading operator and franchisor of brewery and craft beer-focused casual dining restaurants with nearly 200 owned and franchised locations across the United States,” a press release states. CraftWorks’ primary concepts include Old Chicago, Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch.

CraftWorks is headed by Frank Day and Allen Corey. Day, founder of Rock Bottom, will serve as Chairman of the Board and Corey as President and CEO of CraftWorks.

“This merger marks a new era for both Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch and I am very excited about the growth potential that the future holds for CraftWorks,” Day said for a press release.

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group was formerly majority owned by Hancock Park Associates. Rock Bottom Restaurants was owned by founder Frank Day and his investment group.

More information is available at the new company’s website.


Deschutes shines in European competition

Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery captured six medals in the 2010 European Beer Star competition, including gold medals for Obsidian Stout and Twilight Ale. Beers were judged last month in Germany and the awards handed out today in Nürnberg.

Straslunder Brauerei from Straslund was the 2010 European Beer Star brewery of 2010, winning three gold medals.

Deschutes won silver with Bachelor ESB, Black Butte Porter and Jubel 2010, bronze with Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

The competition, held by the Association Private Brauereien, attracted a record 955 entries. “There have never been so many participating breweries and so many breweries that made it into the winner lists,” said Dr. Werner Glossner, managing director of the Association Private Brauereien Bayern. “This shows how prestigious the award has become worldwide.”

A press released stated, “This trend is effectively demonstrated by breweries from the highly innovative ‘beer country’ Italy, which was more successful than ever with two gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal.”

First-time winners include breweries from like Japan, Peru, Sweden, Romania, Singapore and Myanmar.

Organizers thought the result unique enough to point out that in the typically German category “German-Style Märzen” (and about half the entries were from Germany), the Spoetzl Brewery from Shiner, Texas, received the gold medal and the Coedo Brewery from Japan the silver medal.

American breweries captured 26 medals. Gold medal winners beyond Deschutes and Shiner (which also won silver with Shiner 101) included Caldera Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Left Hand Black Jack Porter, Alaskan Smoked Porter, Firestone Walker’s Mission Street Honey Blond, and Moylan’s Hopsickle IPA.

Not surprisingly, Americans swept the Ultra Strong Category, but surprisingly they did not take home all three in India Pale Ale (Three Towns Independent Brewers from Sweden took bronze).

The complete results.


Red Poppy wins Champion Wood Aged Beer

Lost Abbey’s Red Poppy took home honors as Champion Wood Aged Beer during the wood aged beer competition at the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago.

“I was shocked to see that Red Poppy took down all the big beers,” said Tomme Arthur, director of operations for Port Brewing/Lost Abbey, based in San Marcos, Calif. “At 5% ABV, it was a bit unexpected.”

Begun in 2003, the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers is the oldest and largest festival in the world to feature only beers aged in or on wood. More than 1,800 attended the 2010 festival, which featured 156 beers (plus two barrel-aged ciders) from breweries representing nearly half of the United States.

“We are thrilled that breweries nationwide choose our event to feature their best wood-aged beer,” said Jeff Sparrow, the event organizer. “Barrel aged craft beer started right here in Chicago,” added Peter Crowley, president of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, “and we are excited to see brewers everywhere push the boundaries with wood aging.”

Category 1: Classic Porter/Stout
1 Goose Island Brewpub, Chicago, Sweet Southern Kiss
2 Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Lombard, Ill., Pritchard #4
3 Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, Chicago, Jockey Full of Bourbon

Category 2: Strong Porter/Stout
1 Fitger’s Brewhouse, Duluth, Minn., Bourbon Barrel Edmund Imperial Stout
2 Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, Calif., Older Viscosity
3 Fifty Fifty Brewing Company, Truckee, Calif., Imperial Eclipse Stout – 2009 Elijah Craig

Category 3: Barleywine/Wheatwine
1 Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Warrenville, Ill., Snarleywine
2 Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery, Flossmoor, Ill., BA Hi-Fi Rye
3 Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, Chicago, Barrel Aged Mooseknuckle Barleywine

Category 4: Classic Styles
1 Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Cincinnati, Sarah’s Two Headed Buffalo
2 Bluegrass Brewing Company – Shelbyville Road, Louisville, Ky., Bourbon Barrel Biere de Garde
3 Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif., Lil Opal

Category 5: Strong/Double/Imperial Pale Beer
1 Nebraska Brewing Company, Papillion, Neb., Melange A Trois
2 Schmaltz Brewing Company, San Francisco, Calif., R.I.P.A. on Rye
3 Nebraska Brewing Company, Papillion, Neb., Oaked Rye IPA

Category 6: Strong/Double/Imperial Dark Beers
1 America’s Brewing Company, Aurora, Ill., Why’s It Sooo Loud Scotch Ale
2 New Holland Brewing Company, New Holland, Mich., Charkoota Rye
3 Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage, Alaska, Glacier Ice

Category 7: Fruit Beers
1 Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, Calif., Red Poppy Ale
2 Three Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind., Chocolate City
3 Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Lombard, Ill., Clusterfunk!

Category 8: Experimental Beers
1 Grand Teton Brewing Company, Victor, Idaho, Barrel-Aged Tail Waggin’ Double White Ale
2 Three Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind., Conquistador de la Muerte
3 Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, Calif., Boubon Barrel Aged Cappuccino Stout

Category 9: Wild Beers
1 Squatters Pubs & Beers, Salt Lake City, Utah, Fifth Element
2 Upland Brewing Company, Bloomington, Ind., Dantalion
3 Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, Lolita

Category 10: Wild Acidic Beers
1 Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery, Flossmoor, Ill., Rosie Pom
2 New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Calif., Tart Lychee
3 Destihl Brew Works, Bloomington, Ill., St. Dekkera Reserve: Framboise


Homebrewers Association giving away GABF trip

The American Homebrewers Association is giving away a trip to the Great American Beer Festival. Register at before Nov. 30 to enter in the sweepstakes.

The contest winner receives airfare for two, three nights of hotel accommodations and two all-session passes to Great American Beer Festival 2011 in Denver, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The rules.

P.S. Those registered before the contest was announced are automatically entered in the sweepstakes.


Wisconsin man new Stella Artois Draught Master

Chris Myers from Madison, Wis., has become the second American to win the title of Stella Artois World Draught Master in 14 years the competition has been held.

Australian Siobhan Kathleen Mullins was the first runner-up at the finals held in London. Third place went to Keith Cuveele from Belgium and fourth to Canadian Marc Pronovost.

“Among the 24 other competitors, it was an absolute honor to represent my country in the World Draught Masters finals,” Myers said for a press release. “It’s been an amazing, whirlwind experience – from qualifying in Madison, on to New York, Boston and finally London. Now, that experience will continue as I travel the world representing Stella Artois!”

The annual Stella Artois World Draught Master competition focuses on the importance of the perfect pouring ritual.

Myers will travel to more than 10 different countries around the world as the ambassador for Stella Artois.


Soon organic beers must include organic hops

The National Organic Standards Board has recommended to the USDA that hops be removed from the list of nonorganic ingredients allowed in organic products, and that beginning in 2013 all beer labeled organic must be brewed with organic hops.

The American Organic Hop Grower Association had petitioned to have hops removed from the list. Many craft beer makers supported the petition, such as Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Lakefront Brewery, and Seven Bridges Cooperative.

“We think it’s a good decision,” Meghann Quinn, executive director of the organic hop growers association, Association, said in reaction to the announcement. “We want organic beer to be brewed with organic hops, and we think this lays out a reasonable road map to get there.”

Organic beer can continue to be brewed with nonorganic hops until Jan. 1, 2013.

Hops were placed on the nonorganic product list in 2007 because brewers said they couldn’t find enough organic hops to meet their needs.

Growing organically costs more — in the case of hops about $5,000 an acre to $7,000 an acre more. Because brewers could use nonorganic hops in beers and still label them organic the demand for organic hops has been capped. For instance, only 100 of the 30,500 acres of hops in Washington’s Yakima Valley are devoted to organic hops.