Charlie – and you know who we mean – is retiring

The godfather of American homebrewing has an exit strategy. The Brewers Association announced that Charlie Papazian will step down Jan. 23, 2019, on this 70th birthday.

Papazian and Charlie Matzen, both school teachers at the time, founded the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colo., in 1978. Papazian started the Great American Beer Festival four years later. And the following year, the Association of Brewers was organized to include the AHA and the Institute for Brewing and Fermentation Studies to assist the growing number of new breweries. In 2005, the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association. Papazian served as its president until handing over the title to Bob Pease in 2016.

“We are all here today because of Charlie Papazian,” Pease said in a press release. “His influence on the homebrewing and craft brewing community is immeasurable. Who could have predicted that a simple wooden spoon, ingenuity and passion would spawn a community of more than one million homebrewers and 6,000 small and independent U.S. craft breweries.”

Many the brewers who joined what has become known as the craft beer movement learned to make beer in homebrew classes Papazian taught in Colorado in the 1970s. Still more learned from reading The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, following is advice to “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”

In the BA press release, Papazian says, “I had a playful vision that there would be a homebrewer in every neighborhood and a brewery in every town. But what I did not imagine, couldn’t imagine, never considered, was the impact that craft brewing would have on our culture, economy and American life.”

He will spend his final year at the BA completing many projects, including a craft brewing history archive project. The archive will house 40 years of craft beer history in the form of more than 100,000 publications, photographs, audiotapes, films, videos, and documents — including 140 video interviews of the pioneers of American craft brewing — and will be accessible to researchers via the BA. He will also deliver the keynote address at the AHA’s 40th annual National Homebrew Conference, Hombrew Con, in Portland, Ore., in June.

The BA inveites brewers and homebrewers are invited to share their well wishes and Charlie Papazian stories on the AHA and BA Facebook pages.


City of Portland yields to local brewery

The city of Portland has abandoned an effort to take away a local brewery’s right to using an iconic logo. Old Town Brewing secured the exclusive rights to use the leaping deer logo found on the city-owned Portland, Oregon, sign in 2012.

The city hired a private trademark attorney and spent four years contesting Old Town Brewing’s exclusive rights. The Oregonian reports city officials announced Portland will no longer seek to secure the trademark for use of the logo on beer, wine and liquor products.

In exchange, the Old Town brewery will allow the city to license the image for certain local alcohol-related uses such as festivals, events and advertising for local trade organizations. Old Town Brewing will not allow use of the logo on any alcohol-related products or packaging.


Lagunitas won’t reopen Charleston brewery

Lagunitas Brewing will not reopen the Charleston, S.C., brewpub it took over in 2016 and was forced to close last year because it needed repairs. The company realized that renovating the building would cost too much to be worth it, company spokeswoman Karen Hamilton informed the The Post and Courier.

The building was constructed in 1880 as a store and warehouse for F.W. Wagener & Co. South end Brewery took it over in 1996, operating a popular brewpub. Lagunitas operated it for several months until last July, when the city ordered scaffolding put up to protect nearby pedestrians from bricks that might fall.

“That building seemed to be the perfect location because they were already a brewery,” Hamilton wrote in an email. “It takes buildings with a certain infrastructure to support the weight of a brewery as well as ceiling height, etc. So it is a unique thing. You just can’t set up shop anywhere.”

Despite the setback, the company has not given up on Charleston. “We’ve got our eyes open,” Hamilton said. “Or maybe not just another brewery but something else! We’re a fairly creative bunch so you never know.”


Smuttynose Brewing to be sold at auction

Smuttynose Brewing Co., founded in 1994 and the largest craft brewery in New Hampshire, will be sold at bank auction March 9 unless a buyer is found before. The company employs 68 people and generates more than $10 million in revenue a year.

The sale includes the Smuttynose brand, its facility on the historic Towle Farm in Hampton and Hayseed Restaurant located next to the brewery on its 13-acre site. The brewery is capable of producing 75,000 barrels a year, but in the last year it has been running at 50% capacity.

“The company’s financial models were based on 20 years of consistent growth but the explosion of microbreweries has led to changing dynamics in the marketplace,” Smuttynose owner Peter Egelston said in a press release. “This dramatic shift occurred just as Smuttynose committed to a major infrastructure investment with the construction of the new production facility. As the turmoil in the marketplace stabilizes, Smuttynose, a trusted brand with strong consumer loyalty, can regain its footing with a major infusion of capital.”

Egelston stressed that the company is open and will conduct business as usual.

Lead lender Provident Bank is managing the auction process. “Smuttynose Brewing Company has been a valued customer and an important part of our community. Provident Bank is committed to working with the company during these challenging financial times to produce the best outcome for everyone involved,” Provident Bank President Chuck Withee said.

Egelston, along with partner Joanne Francis, is also owner of the Portsmouth Brewery, a brewpub located in downtown Portsmouth. It is not part of the sale.


Guinness debuts non-alcoholic lager

Guinness begins rolling a non-alcoholic lager in Ireland this month. Pure Brew has been developed at Open Gate, Diageo’s experimental brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin. Pure Brew will be available in 250 pubs in Dublin to start, nationwide beginning in March.

Unlike other non-alcoholic beers, Pure Brew is a fully-fermented beer. Most others are full-strength beers with the alcohol eventually removed through evaporation, a process many maintian also removes flavor. Pure Brew is the result of two years of experimentation, has been developed using a special yeast strain so that it is a fully fermented beer.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to compromise on flavour just because they want to moderate,” lead brewer John Casey told The Irish Times. “With Pure Brew we wanted to give people a taste experience comparable to regular beer.”


Green Flash pulls out of 32 markets

Green Flash Brewing, which operates breweries on both coasts, announced it will withdraw distribution from 32 states and reduce its workforce by 15%.

“We were doing pretty well close to the breweries, and in some strategic markets we had some strongholds, but we had a lot of territory that was in pretty steady decline,” co-founder Mike Hinkley told Brewbound. “Rather than to continue to fight that battle, we took the resources from out there and brought ’em all into a smaller territory — as much as we could, anyway.”

Green Flash sold only 18% of its beer in the 32 states it will not longer ship to. “We kept about 82% of our wholesale trade business,” Hinkley said. “We were pretty sparse and in decline in that other territory, so reeling it back to strength. Now we can put our sales and marketing resources into a tighter geographic footprint.”

Green Flash will continue to supply Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia from two breweries — the original San Diego location and its second brewery in Virginia Beach. Green Flash also recently acquired a brewpub in Lincoln, Neb., and expects that could be a model for the future.

“If that’s successful, that’ll be the model for how to go to another city,” Hinkley told Brewbound. “And then the 100-year plan is maybe there’ll be 10 Lincolns over the next 20 years of my life. But who knows? I just can’t support all of that territory. I don’t have the resources to compete on that broad a scale.”


Innovation Brewing can keep name

A federal trademark court has ruled that Innovation Brewing in North Carolina is clear to register its name and branding. Bell’s Brewery in Michigan had argued the microbrewery’s name is too close to two of Bell’s marketing phrases.

In opposing Innovation’s trademark registration in 2014 Bell’s argued Innovation’s name sounded too much like the bigger brewery’s unregistered advertising slogan, “Bottling innovation since 1985.” Bell’s also claimed the word “inspired,” which Bell’s has used on some logos and marketing materials within the phrase “Inspired Brewing,” carries the same meaning as the word “innovation.”

The trademark court found that the slogan in question had not been “used and/or advertised … in connection with a single product (so) that they have come to be associated together, in the mind of the purchasing public” with Bell’s products.


Mendocino Brewing closes historic taproom

Mendocino Brewing Co., which has a direct link to the beginning of the American craft beer movement, will close its California taproom Saturday and the future of the brewery is in doubt.

Originally located in Hopland and later relocated to Ukiah, the taproom was the first brewpub to open in California and second in the United States after Prohibition. Some of the brewery’s equipment came from New Albion, the first post-Prohibition purpose-built microbrewery.

The closing comes as Mendocino Brewing is in discussion with an investor to help rescue the company, said Michael Laybourn, brewery co-founder who is still a board member. Its Ukiah brewery is located about a half-mile away from the taproom. “If it happens in the right way, he will save the company,” Laybourn said of the investor, which he did not name but said was from Northern California.

The brewery, which opened in 1983, has struggled recently under its chairman and indirect majority shareholder, Vijay Mallya, who bought the company in 1997. Mallya resides in London and is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering, according to news reports.


Lyft-branded beer comes with ride discount

Rideshare company Lyft is collaborating with a Chicago brewer to produce a beer that comes with a discount for future rides. Five Star Lager, made by Baderbräu Brewery, will be available only in select Chicago bars.

“This is the first partnership of its kind for Lyft and we believe the combination of Baderbräu’s beer and the offer for safe rides home will be very popular with our Chicago riders,” David Katcher, a Midwest general manager for Lyft said in a statement. Baderbräu will not brew a new recipe for Lyft, instead rebranding its own South Side Pride. It will come with a discount code worth up to 60% off a standard Lyft ride.

Lyft has long had what it calls a “safe ride” program, including one with Anheuser-Busch, which for two years has offered up to 150,000 round-trip Lyft rides during weekends and holidays. Lyft chose to partner with a smaller brewery this time because a smaller brewery because it wants “a brand that has more impact with locals.”


Blue Moon creator leaves MillerCoors

Keith Villa, who wrote the recipe for Blue Moon Belgian White in 1995, is retiring from MillerCoors. “While I am stepping away and retiring from MillerCoors, this company will forever hold a special place in my heart,” Villa said via a statement. “Over the last 20 years, I have witnessed the growth of Blue Moon from a local beer that we developed at the SandLot (a brewery that began inside Coors Field in Denver) to a brand that is sold around the world.”

Villa served as head brewmaster and global brand ambassador in recent years, continuing to write recipes for other Blue Moon brands.

According to market research firm IRI Worldwide, Blue Moon Belgian White Ale ranks as the No. 1 craft brand with sales of more than $258 million in grocery and convenience stores.