Government blocks AB InBev deal for Modelo

The U.S. sued to block Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed $20.1 billion purchase of the half of Grupo Modelo brands it doesn’t already own, stating that the deal would violate antitrust law.

Shares of both companies plunged after the Justice Department filed a complaint in federal court in Washington. The DOJ said the proposed purchased would eliminate the “substantial head-to-head competition” that currently exists between AB InBev and Modelo.

Modelo owns the Corona brand, and Budweiser and Corona are among the most dominant beer brands in the country. Bud Light is the best-selling U.S. beer, while Corona Extra is the No. 1 selling import.

“If ABI fully owned and controlled Modelo, ABI would be able to increase beer prices to American consumers,” Bill Baer, the head of department’s antitrust division, said in a statement. “This lawsuit seeks to prevent ABI from eliminating Modelo as an important competitive force in the beer industry.”

The Justice Department’s action is “inconsistent with the law, the facts and the reality of the marketplace,” according to an ABI statement. “We remain confident in our position, and we intend to vigorously contest the DOJ’s action in federal court.”


Kim Jordan to deliver 2013 CBC keynote

New Belgium Brewing co-founder and CEO Kim Jordan has agreed to “return to the scene of the crime.”

She will deliver the keynote address at the Brewers Association’s 2013 Craft Brewers Conference. The industry’s largest gathering — bringing together some 6,000 brewing professionals — will be held in Washington, D.C. from March 26-29.

Jordan also gave the keynote in 2003, when she called for craft brewers to aspire to reach 10% of U.S. beer sales. In the previous year, craft sales had grown only 1%. In the years that followed the gains were 5%, 8%, 13%, 12%, 6%, 7%, 12% and 13%. In 2011, the latest full year for which the BA has published data, craft brewing sales share was at 9.1% by dollars and 5.7% by volume, increasing more than half a point per year since 2003.

“The beer industry has changed significantly over the course of the last several years. Relationships among small brewers, large brewers, distributors, retailers and beer drinkers continue to evolve,” said BA director Paul Gatza. “Kim is a visionary and true leader in the beer community. Her insight, enthusiasm and vigor will be a welcomed inspiration as small and independent brewers gather together for a discussion on how to navigate the ever-evolving and thriving industry. We are pleased to have her back to the CBC stage.”

More about the conference.


Alaskan Brewing adds another energy saving tool

Alaskan Brewing has become the first brewery in the world to use its spent grain as the fuel source to power the steam boiler it uses in making beer, and reduced the company’s fuel oil consumption in brewhouse operations by 60 to 70 percent.

“We have the unique honor of brewing craft beer in this stunning and remote place,” Alaskan Brewing co-founder Geoff Larson said for a press release. “But in order to grow as a small business here in Alaska and continue having a positive effect on our community, we have to take special efforts to look beyond the traditional to more innovative ways of brewing. Reducing our energy use makes good business sense, and good sense for this beautiful place where we live and play.”

The brewery began the spent grain energy process in 1995 with the installation of a grain dryer. The equipment dried the wet, protein-rich spent grain in preparation for shipment to the lower 48 for use as cattle feed, due to the absence of farms or ranches in Southeast Alaska. Alaskan designed the grain dryer to use up to 50 percent of the grain as a supplemental fuel source to heat the dryer itself. This reduced the oil required in the drying process, and provided experience in burning spent grain that would later prove useful in designing the steam boiler.

In 2008, Alaskan became the first craft brewery in the nation to install an energy saving piece of brewing equipment called a mash filter press. The mash filter press, in addition to providing greater energy, water, and materials efficiencies, produces a lower-moisture-content spent grain than does the more traditional lautering process. This form of spent grain better lends itself to drying and for use as fuel for the brewery’s grain dryer and, ultimately, the new spent grain steam boiler system.

Over the latter months of 2012, Alaskan completed the final stage of the process with the installation and commissioning of the $1.8 million, custom-constructed spent grain steam boiler.

Alaskan expects that the new boiler will eliminate the brewery’s use of fuel oil in the grain drying process and displace more than half of the fuel needed to create process steam in the brewhouse. This translates to an estimated reduction in fuel oil use in brewhouse operations by more than half. With moderate growth assumptions, Alaskan expects to save nearly 1.5 million gallons of oil over the next ten years.


A-B InBev loses bid for lone right to Bud name in UK

The U.K. Supreme Court has ruled against Anheuser-Busch InBev’s request to stop Czech brewery Budvar from selling beer under the Budweiser name. Both brewing companies will continue to use the name in the UK.

While Anheuser-Busch was first to seek to trademark the Budweiser name in Britain, the Czech company entered the British market one year ahead of the then-St. Louis-based brewer, according to Reuters.

Tuesday’s ruling comes more than two years after a European Union ruling that quashed AB-InBev’s attempt to register the Budweiser name as its trademark.

According to Budvar, there there are about 40 related trademark dispute cases pending in different jurisdictions and some 70 procedural issues up for consideration around the world.

AB InBev said it was disappointed by the UK Supreme Court ruling but that it did not affect its Budweiser trademark in the country. It said Budweiser sales in the UK rose 40% between 2009 and 2011.

“This attempt to change the final decision of the court proves the long-term strong interest by (AB InBev) to gain exclusive rights for the Budweiser brand at any cost,” Budvar chief executive Jiri Bocek said in a statement.


New Belgium brewing now 100% employee owned

New Belgium Brewing announced the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) has purchased the balance of company shares, making it 100% employee-owned. New Belgium has been a partial ESOP since 2000 with a controlling interest held by co-founder Kim Jordan and her family.

“There are few times in life where you get to make choices that will have multi-generational impact – this is one of those times. We have an opportunity to write the next chapter of this incredible story and we’re really excited about that,” Jordan said. “We have always had a high involvement ownership culture and this allows us to take that to the next logical level. It will provide an elegant succession framework that keeps the executive team in tact ensuring our vision stays true going forward.”

Jordan plans to remain CEO for the long-term and the executive team at New Belgium will continue in its current form.

The Fort Collins brewer is currently building a second facility in Asheville, North Carolina that will begin beer production in 2015. The transition to 100% ownership will enable New Belgium to include their future co-workers in Asheville.

The deal was completed on the 28th of December with a companywide announcement made during New Belgium’s annual winter retreat this week. All 456 employee-owners were present for the celebration. Prior to this deal, New Belgium co-workers held 41% of the company’s shares.


Bud Black Crown to get Super treatment

Anheuser-Busch InBev will feature its new Budweiser Black Crown in advertising during Super Bowl. The new beer is scheduled to be on sale nationwide by Jan. 21. Last year, A-B introduced Bud Light Platinum during the Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl really is the ideal venue to launch something new,” Budweiser Vice President Rob McCarthy was quoted in USA Today.

Black Crown’s recipe was picked from among six limited-edition beers that were created by Budweiser brewmasters earlier this year. It was called 91406 in a Project 12 variety pack released in October. It is stronger than Budweiser, with 6% alcohol by volume compared to 5%, and slightly more bitter. McCarthy described it as “a little bit darker and a little bit more flavorful” than the traditional Budweiser lager.

A-B hopes to cater to variety-seeking Millennials with the new beer. “This brand will appeal to a broad range of beer drinkers, but especially to 21-to-34-year-old, trend-setting-type consumers,” McCarthy said.


Brooklyn, Carnegie to open Stockholm brewery

Brooklyn Brewery, D. Carnegie & Co., and Carlsberg Sweden have announced the launch of a new brewery and restaurant in central Stockholm.

According to a press release, the Brooklyn-New Carnegie Brewery will be built in the Luma Factory buildings in Hammarby Sjöstad, a residential and commercial complex that fronts on Stockholm harbor. The waterfront brewery will have brewing capacity for 8,000 barrels (almost 250,000 gallons), and restaurant capacity for 100 visitors inside and another 150 visitors outside.

The Brooklyn Brewery will manage and operate the project through a wholly owned Swedish subsidiary, and Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver and his team will brew special Brooklyn beers and develop new beers for the New Carnegie brand. “We love Stockholm, and the whole Brooklyn brewing team is looking forward to their stints at Brooklyn-New Carnegie. We’re going to have a lot of fun brewing and creating beers with our Swedish team,” said Oliver.

In 2011, the Brooklyn Brewery collaborated with Carnegie to produce a bourbon barrel-aged version of Carnegie Porter to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Carnegie Brewery.

“We distributed Carnegie Porter years ago in New York,” said Brooklyn Chief Operating Officer Eric Ottaway. “We have great respect for the tradition that Carnegie represents, and we look forward to developing the portfolio of beers.”

Joakim Losin, CEO of New Carnegie, said the brewery and restaurant would be a meeting place for Sweden’s craft brewers and their followers, and a school for Swedish beer lovers. The new brewery/restaurant will be open for tours as well as lunch and dinner.

Carnegie is the oldest trademark in Sweden. The company was purchased by Carlsberg when it bought the Pripps Brewery in 2001, and Carlsberg Sweden was established.

Brooklyn Brewery brands have been imported by Carlsberg Sweden since 2006. Sweden is the largest export market for the Brooklyn Brewery.

Brooklyn ships many of its bottled beers to Sweden, including its flagship Brooklyn Lager and its 750-ml bottle-conditioned beers like Brooklyn Local 1 and Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. It also ships tankers of beer to Sweden which are kegged in Falkenberg. Brooklyn Lager and Brooklyn East India Pale Ale are available on draft all over Sweden.

Brooklyn Brewery is America’s leading craft beer exporter.