Elysian Brewing latest A-B acquisition

Anheuser-Busch announced it has agreed to purchase Elysian Brewing in Seattle, Wash., the third craft brewery (as defined by the Brewers Association) the brewing giant has acquired inside of 12 months.

“For two decades, we’ve welcomed guests into our brewpubs and served them creative and impeccably crafted beers,” Elysian CEO Joe Bisacca said for a press release. He and his partners, Dick Cantwell and David Buhler, will continue with the brewery. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve grown from one Seattle brewpub to four pub locations and a production brewery. With the support of Anheuser-Busch, we will build on past successes and share our beers with more beer lovers moving forward.”

Cantwell added, “Throughout our journey we’ve been focused on brewing a portfolio of both classic and groundbreaking beers and supporting innovation and camaraderie in the beer industry through collaboration and experimentation. By joining with Anheuser-Busch we’ll be able to take the next steps to bring that energy and commitment to a larger audience.”

“Elysian’s story includes everything we look for in a partner,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The team has spent their careers brewing distinctive beers in the thriving West Coast beer community and building unique venues that celebrate beer. As the fastest growing brewer in Washington, their recipe is working. Elysian’s brands are an important addition to our high-end beer portfolio, and we look forward to working together.”

In addition to the Seattle Airport Way brewery, the acquisition includes the company’s four Seattle brewpubs, Elysian Capitol Hill, Elysian Tangletown, Elysian Fields and Elysian BAR.

Within the past year, A-B also bought Blue Point Brewing in New York and 10 Barrel Brewing in Oregon.

Cantwell talked at length with Seattle Beer News about the deal, among other things saying, “To be perfectly honest, I have a lot of ambivalence about it. It wasn’t necessarily the outcome I was looking for, but I think it is going to ultimately be a really positive step for us in terms of the capabilities, the resources, the opportunities for our folks to further their educations and their brewing experiences. That’s the side of it that I’m trying to concentrate on.”

He also said the brewery would not stop making Loser, which was first brewed to celebrate Sub Pop Records’ 20th anniversary. The marketing slogan for the beer is “Corporate Beer Still Sucks.” “We’re not going to stop making that, anymore than we’re going to stop doing anything else that we’ve been doing,” he said.


Lagunitas dropping suit against Sierra Nevada

A dispute between Lagunitas Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. that flashed in the public arena on Tuesday basically ended later in the day.

Posting on Twitter, Lagunitas founder Tony Magee wrote, “Today was in the hands of the ultimate court; The Court of Public Opinion and in it I got an answer to my Question; Our IPA’s TM has limits.”

On Monday, the California brewery took Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to court, claiming the brewery’s logo on its new Hop Hunter IPA violated Lagunitas’ trademark. As part of the lawsuit, Lagunitas was seeking a temporary restraining order to block Sierra Nevada’s use of the Hop Hunter design. The case was scheduled to be heard Jan. 20 in an Oakland courtroom in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, according to online records.

After the suit became public on Tuesday, seemingly every human on earth that has ever drank a beer from either of the breweries posted an opinion on some social media site. Some supported Lagunitas’ right to defend its trademark, but Magee obviously saw overall opinion was on the side of Sierra Nevada.

Before announcing he would drop the suit on Wednesday, he also tweeted, “Today, January 13th 2015, has been the worst day ever in 23 years of growing my brewery. Worst. Growing a biz involves defending a biz…”


Lagunitas claims Sierra Nevada infringes on trademark

Lagunitas Brewing Co. has sued rival Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., according to the Press Democrat, alleging the Chico-based brewer has engaged in trademark infringement on its new Hop Hunter IPA label. Sierra Nevada is the second-largest craft brewer in the United Sates, while Lagunitas is No. 5.

Lagunitas owner Tony Magee argues Sierra Nevada’s design on Hop Hunter uses all capital, large, bold and black “IPA” lettering that is similar design to his label. The suit was filed Monday in the federal district of northern California.

Lagunitas alleges that the Hop Hunter “IPA” lettering is a “radical departure” from Sierra Nevada’s traditional design.

Lagunitas has filed four claims in its suit: federal trademark infringement; common law trademark infringement; unfair business practices; and unjust enrichment.


Another American brewery expands into Germany

St. Louis-based Urban Chestnut Brewing’s plans for brewing in Germany do not quite match the scale of what Stone Brewing has announced in Berlin, but UCBC co-founder Florian Kuplent admits they are nonetheless rather ambitious.

“I’m thinking we might be a little crazy opening our third brewery in (less than) five years,” he said for a press release, but the opportunity to purchase a recently closed brewery in Wolnzach, Germany, was too good to pass on.

UCBC has acquired Bürgerbräu Wolnzach in Wolnzach, which is located about 50 kilometers north of Munich International Airport. Urban Chestnut has been exporting small quantities of beer to Germany since 2013. Co-founder David Wolfe said, “In considering different ways to grow Urban Chestnut in Germany and in Europe as a whole, we believe the U.S. craft beer model of ‘local’ is a more than viable strategy. Actually owning and operating a brewery in Bavaria will provide us with a solid platform for growth.”

Urban Chesnut opened its first brewery in 2011 in midtown St. Louis and a much larger production facility and beer hall a few miles away early in 2014.

The new brewery will be the smallest of the three UCBC breweries. The Wolnzach operation will be utilized to brew beers to distribute in Europe as well as to brew unique, German-brewed beers to export to the U.S. It will also act as the central point of operations for the importing/exporting of raw materials, beer, and other goods to and from the U.S.

“Since my apprenticeship as a teenager at Erharting Brauerei, I’ve always dreamed of owning my own brewery in Bavaria,” Kuplent said.