Pizza Hut To Offer Beer Selection

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Last month, The Street reported that the Pizza Hut chain has remodeled several of their 6,000+ restaurants, and “plans to remodel roughly 700 of its U.S. stores a year through 2022 in the new format.” The newly refurbished Pizza Huts will continue to have the company’s ” trademark red and black colors, albeit with deeper hues” and will also “feature wraparound windows, outdoor seating and yes, a drive-thru.”

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All well and good, so far, but so what, you may be asking. Pizza Hut has also added beer and wine service at the remodeled locations, and plans to add alcohol to each refurbished restaurant. Frankly, I didn’t realize they didn’t serve beer already. Pizza and beer are pretty much a perfect pairing, as iconic as peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese and tomato soup. The more I think about it, almost every pizza place I can name also serves beer, both chains and the small mom and pop pizza joints. How many brewpubs serve pizza? Lots of them, with many even specializing in it.

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Why I bring this up is because the wackos at Alcohol Justice tweeted their displeasure at this idea, with this. “Now Pizza Hut wants to sell booze too bit.ly/1PkIwe1 What’s next…wine tastings at Toys-R-Us?” That’s what’s known as a false equivalence, one does not follow from the other. It is, in effect, a bullshit argument. One is a restaurant, and a type of restaurant that typically does carry beer and wine. The other is a toy store. There’s no link whatsoever, nothing that would make this in any way logical. It’s AJ making a mountain out a molehill, as they so often try to do. It’s just absurd.

They idea that a pizza restaurant serving beer and wine is cause for alarm is absolutely laughable. It’s harder to think of one that doesn’t already serve beer then come up with all of those who do. Several times I’ve gone with Porter’s basketball team and his little league baseball team to a Mountain Mike’s or Straw Hat Pizza after a game with the whole team and their parents. Many pizzas are ordered for everyone, with pitchers of beer for the parents. That’s the very definition of family-friendly, with something for everyone. Not once has there been a problem. But in AJ’s worldview, beer at a pizza joint with beer is the same as booze being served at a toy store. But now I’m feeling hungry. I’ve got plenty of beer. I wonder if it’s too late to order from Pizza Hut? They just opened one in our town, and I definitely want to support their decision to upset Alcohol Justice.

Asahi Likely To Buy Grolsch, Meantime & Peroni

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Anhesuer-Busch InBev has been trying to sell off their Grolsch, Meantime and Peroni, since acquiring SABMiller last year. ABI confirmed this morning that they’ve received a binding offer to purchase the three beer brands from Japan’s Asahi Breweries. According to Just Drinks, “Asahi has been granted a ‘period of exclusivity’ related to the purchase, which, AB InBev flagged, is ‘conditional on the successful closing of the recommended acquisition of SABMiller by AB InBev.'” The amount offered by Asahi is 2.55 billion euros (around $2.86 billion in U.S. dollars) and which, if accepted, would go a long way toward addressing regulatory concerns about the acquisition of SABMiller by ABI. Reuters also has more about the particulars.

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The Asahi Breweries headquarters in Tokyo, from a trip I took there to judge a beer competition in 2013.

Pyramid Closes Walnut Creek Location

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Rumor has it that Pyramid Breweries has closed the last remaining vestige of their foray into California. After closing the Sacramento brewpub a couple of years ago, and the Berkeley brewpub last year, apparently the staff of the Walnut Creek Alehouse learned Sunday that it would be their last day. Yesterday, apparently, the alehouse was locked up and closed up for good.

The website for the Walnut Creek Alehouse simply states the following:

The Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek is now closed.
Thank you so much for your patronage over the years. We also thank our employees for their dedicated service.

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Jesse Houck Moving To Maui Brewing

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Maui Brewing has announced that their new Director of Brewery Operations will be Jesse Houck. Houck was most recently at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, and prior to that was in the Bay Area with both Drake’s Brewing and 21st Amendment.

From the press release:

“I am beyond stoked to be working with such a strong leader as Garrett and the talented team he has assembled here on Maui,” stated Jesse Houck.

“I’ve known Jesse for most of my career in craft beer and have always been impressed with his brewing talent, and proud to call him a friend. I’m stoked to have him at the helm of our brewing operations and we’re looking forward to some awesome projects coming down the pipe,” added Founder and CEO Garrett Marrero.

I recently visited the new facility that Maui Brewing built and turned loose in that brewhouse, Jesse’s going to do great things. It also really makes me want to go back to Maui again, not that I needed much incentive. It’s an amazing space that Garrett and Melanie Marrero built closer to the center of the island, and not too far from the airport. With two new planned restaurants in their future, adding Jesse was a prudent move. Congratulations to both.

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Jesse (right) with Shaun O’Sullivan at the Toronado Barleywine Festival in 2008.

ABI Buys Breckenridge Brewery

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Sheesh, look what happens when I try to take a day off. For the third workday in a row, Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced yet another acquisition, this time it was Breckenridge Brewery of Colorado. This is becoming almost routine. Again, the price was not disclosed, and the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. Last year, the brewery ranked No. 50 on the list of the Top 50 Craft Breweries and is expected to produce around 70,000 barrels this year. Here’s the press release from ABI:

Anheuser-Busch today announced it will acquire Colorado-based Breckenridge Brewery. With this agreement, Breckenridge Brewery is the seventh craft brewery to join The High End, Anheuser-Busch’s business unit of craft and import brands.

“We’re excited about the partnership and have been encouraged to continue on our path and become more innovative moving forward,” said Todd Usry, President of Breckenridge Brewery. “I’m a believer in what The High End is focused on accomplishing and we are flattered that our team was chosen to help guide that journey. We’re looking forward to utilizing resources like decades of research and brewing expertise as we continue to create new beers.”

Available in 35 states, Breckenridge Brewery will sell approximately 70,000 barrels of beer in 2015. The new brewery and Farm House restaurant in Littleton have positioned the brewery for future growth. The brewery will continue to make its unique portfolio of beers – ranging from their Vanilla Porter, to Agave Wheat, to their core brands, seasonal specialties and barrel-aged beers.

“Breckenridge Brewery has a long history of innovation and they continue to brew new and exciting beers, from their specialty brews like the Mountain Series that celebrates the brewery’s origin as a ski town brewpub, to their planned nitro can series,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, The High End. “They are innovative and have built an amazing business that’s enabled them to get their great beers to fans across the country. We look forward to even more growth together.”

Breckenridge Brewery will join Goose Island Beer Company, Blue Point Beer Company, 10 Barrel Brewing, Elysian Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing and Four Peaks Brewing Company as part of The High End’s craft beer portfolio.

The partnership includes the company’s new production brewery and Farm House restaurant in Littleton, and original brewpub and current innovation center in the mountain town of Breckenridge.

The current management group, Breckenridge-Wynkoop will continue to own and operate its remaining businesses including: Ale House at Amato’s in Denver, Breckenridge Ale House in Grand Junction, Breckenridge Colorado Craft in Denver, The Cherry Cricket in Denver, Mainline in Fort Collins, Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. in Colorado Springs and Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver.

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In addition, Breckenridge posted a letter on their website blog entitled A Letter From Your Friends at Breckenridge Brewery:

Today’s announcement of our acquisition by Anheuser-Busch’s craft and import division may come as a surprise to many of you. We want to share with you how we came to this decision, what it means to Breckenridge Brewery and to those who’ve supported us for so long.

We’ve been in this creative and dynamic industry for over 25 years, loving everything about it. That won’t change. The passion for quality and culture that got us where we are today isn’t going anywhere. We’re proud of the fact that you can find our beers in 35 states; we’ve worked hard to get our beers to as many of you as possible throughout the years. The High End, Anheuser-Busch’s craft and import division, shares the same excitement for our category and commitment to quality. We will join a group of established and innovative craft brewers as part of The High End, and we look forward to what opportunities these relationships will bring to us.

Our brewpub in Breckenridge, our Littleton brewery and its Farm House restaurant are all part of this new entity. Other properties under the Breckenridge-Wynkoop umbrella will continue to be owned and operated by B-W and are not part of this arrangement.

Of course, the same great team who helped build Breckenridge Brewery won’t be going anywhere. We are excited about the opportunity this partnership brings to all of us. We’ll continue to own decisions about the beers we create and the ingredients in them. What people relate to in this industry is authenticity. If there were plans to come in and change our employees, our culture, and our recipes, well, that would completely undermine the reason for the partnership at all. What this new partnership does offer us is access to resources that will help us continue to innovate and bring our beer to more people.

We ultimately owe our success to you, our followers and supporters. I hope you will give us the chance to prove to you over time that we will continue to be Breckenridge Brewery.

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At this point, the only question is who will it be tomorrow?

ABI Buys London’s Camden Town Brewery

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Anheuser-Busch InBev announced this morning that they were buying British brewer Camden Town Brewery, located in London. Despite having recently raised over £2.75 million through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube (nearly doubling their £1.5 million target), which was purported to fund a second London brewery, Camden Town is quoted in the Guardian that “the businesses needed a major investor to fund the construction of a second brewery that will create 30 jobs.”

Jasper Cuppaidge, who founded the brewery just five years ago, also posted a short statement on their website:

The ‘craft’ brewing movement has seen incredible growth driven by innovation, quality and daring. Camden Town Brewery has been at the forefront of this revolution. The success and reputation we have built has been nothing short of incredible. That has been thanks to all of you and the great beers we’ve brewed.

To stay at the forefront of this movement and secure our future success, we have to build a bigger brewery, employ more people and gain access to an international distribution network.

We can’t do this on our own. That’s why I’m proud to say I’ve signed a deal with AB InBev.

This partnership is going to help us deliver our plans to grow. With AB InBev’s support we will expand our operations, create more jobs in London and continue to brew our great beer and get it to more drinkers. Read more here.

We are really excited about taking this opportunity to turn Camden, and the quality it stands for, from being an outstanding London brewer, to being a world famous one. We hope you are too.

If you’re one of our shareholders, we’ll be in contact soon with more details about what the news means for you. We’ll also be updating the investor site shortly with answers to questions you may have.

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The terms of the deal, and the price, were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close quickly, by January 7. Camden Town also posted a more traditional press release:

Camden Town Brewery today announced that it is partnering with Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) to pave the way for further growth and expansion. The partnership will enable Camden Town Brewery to expand its operations, bringing more of its popular canned, bottled and kegged beer to more people. The deal will see AB InBev acquire Camden Town Brewery.

Founded by Jasper Cuppaidge, the owner of The Horseshoe pub in Hampstead, Camden Town Brewery started full production in 2010. From an original staff of three people, it now employs a team of 95 and has sold 12 million pints in 2015. Their beers are available in over 1000 pubs, bars, restaurants and retailers around the UK, as well as further afield in Sweden, Australia and Japan.

The deal follows a successful bid by Camden Town Brewery to raise capital via crowd funding and will support the company’s plan to build a second brewery in London, employing 30 more people and meeting growing demand for its products. The partnership will enable Camden Town Brewery to brew more of its own distinctive beers and continue to innovate, while maintaining its focus on quality.

Jasper Cuppaidge said: “Our growth has been phenomenal. To keep up with the demand for our distinctive beers we’ve had to look at expanding our brewing capacity and team. AB InBev is going to be our strategic partner, helping us maintain the character and quality of our beers, while giving us access to the investment we need to drive Camden to being ever more successful at home and abroad.

“Opportunities like this come rarely. We believe we must have the ambition to grab this opportunity and turn Camden Town Brewery, and the quality it stands for, from being an outstanding London brewer to being a world famous one.”

Iain Newell, European Director of Specialities & Craft, AB InBev, said: “We have a passion for great beer. Camden Town is a creative business with a great range of brands that will complement our existing portfolio. We will support their ambitious plans for the future, using our expertise and global distribution network to help them get their great beer to more people.”

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ABI Buys Four Peaks

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Anheuser-Busch InBev announced this morning that they were buying Arizona brewer Four Peaks. Four Peaks is nearly twenty years old and Arizona’s largest brewery, on track to make approximately 70,000 barrels in 2015. As a nod to just how routine this type of news is becoming, ABI’s press release is titled “Anheuser-Busch Welcomes Four Peaks Brewing Company To The High End Business Unit.” The price was not disclosed and as is typical, the founders of the brewery will be remaining with the business.

Today, Anheuser-Busch announced an agreement to acquire Four Peaks Brewing Company, the leading craft brewer in the state of Arizona. Four Peaks will represent the sixth operation to join the growing list of innovative and progressive craft breweries within The High End, the company’s business unit providing unique craft and import brands.

“For 20 years we’ve had more amazing experiences than I can count doing what we love to do most – brewing great beer and sharing it with a growing craft community in Arizona that has supported us from day one,” said Andy Ingram, Four Peaks co-founder. “We’re excited to join the enthusiastic team and tap into their resources to expand our footprint and share our beer with even more people moving forward.”

Four Peaks, which opened its doors in 1996, expects to sell approximately 70,000 barrels of beer in 2015. The brewery will continue to brew their award-winning beers, including their flagship beer, Kilt Lifter, a Scottish-Style Ale that accounts for more than 60 percent of the brewery’s sales. Four Peaks also produces popular limited releases like cask versions of its mainstay beers and its four-time World Beer Cup-medaling Hopsquatch Barleywine. In addition to strong mainstay beers and limited releases, Four Peaks has seen great success with newer brews like its Pumpkin Porter, which grew more than 150 percent last year.

“As the leading craft brewery in Arizona, we’re proud of what we’ve built and of our brewing heritage. We’re excited to build on that success with The High End,” said Jim Scussel, Four Peaks co-founder. “Arizona has a rapidly-growing fan base for craft beer and we look forward to more opportunities to share what Four Peaks is about within our local community, and beyond,” added Randy Schultz, Four Peaks co-founder.

Four Peaks will join Goose Island Beer Company, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing, Elysian Brewing Company and Golden Road Brewing as part of the growing portfolio of exceptional craft beers within The High End.

“It’s exciting to partner with another group of passionate craft beer founders, this time in the great state of Arizona,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, The High End. “What Andy, Jim, Randy and the team have been able to accomplish is remarkable and a testament to their culture and portfolio of great beers. We look forward to learning from each other and bringing more Four Peaks beers to craft lovers in the Southwest.”

The partnership includes the company’s three primary locations: the 8th Street Brewery & Pub in Tempe; the Wilson Street Brewery & Tasting Room in Tempe; and the Grill & Tap in Scottsdale, in addition to continuing their partnership at the Sky Harbor Airport facility. Anheuser-Busch’s acquisition of Four Peaks is expected to close during the first quarter of 2016. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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Patent No. 20090308879A1: Method Of Distributing Beer

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Today in 2009, US Patent 20090308879 A1 was issued, an invention of James H. Johnson, Jr., for his “Method of Distributing Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

A method of distributing beer includes the steps of providing a beer staging structure adjacent a retail location for the sale of beer, stocking beer in the structure and advertising for the beer on the structure.

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American Cities Drinking the Most Craft Beer

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Usually, when they break down craft sales, it’s by state, so it’s interesting to see it done by city. Vinepair based their map, Cities That Drink the Most Craft Beer, on Nielsen dollar share data, so while that means it’s only mainstream data from major chains and traditional retail channels, it is still interesting to see how it shakes out. All of the top five cities are on the West Coast, while Washington D.C. leads the East. Of the five not in the West, three are in the Midwest, one is in the Northeast and the other is D.C. And it would appear there’s a large swath in the middle that has some catching up to do.

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Click here to see the map full size.

Storm Brewing Releases $1,000 Beer Bottle

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I suspect that by the time you read this, all ten bottles of the newest release from Storm Brewing, of East Vancouver in British Columbia, will already have been sold, despite the hefty $1,000 per bottle price tag. The new beer is Glacial Mammoth Extinction, and is described on Storm’s website. Essentially it’s a sour beer that, according to brewer James Walton, was frozen “into one big, solid ice cube at -30 degrees Celsius, a process that took him about a month to complete.” Then the water was removed, and the remaining liquid was “aged in French oak barrels for two years until it was ready.”

Part of the expense of the beer is the packaging, with a hand-blown glass bottle fashioned by a local artist, using a 14K gold clasp and 35,000-year-old ivory for the pendant hanging from the neck of the bottle. The beer weighs in at almost 25% a.b.v. and is described as “quite sweet, almost like a port.”

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The Beer: The Glacial Mammoth Extinction is the first beer of its kind (in the world!!) and the result of freezing a strong sour beer to -30C in two stages over a one month period. The sweet alcoholic liquid was separated from the extinct ice glacier that was left in the tank and then aged in French oak barrels for two years until it was ready. The final product is a rich, complex, and viscous 100% malt beverage that resembles Port more than beer.

ALCOHOL – 25% ABV
RESIDUAL SUGAR – 80grams per litre
VOLUME PRODUCED – 400 litres

The Brewery: For over 20 years brewer James Walton and the Storm Brewing team have been bringing Vancouverites innovative and unpretentious craft beer. James is hailed as a craft beer pioneer by both media and trade and is proud to be one of the very first brewers in North America to brew sour beer. The brewery sits at the corner of Commercial Drive and Franklin Street in gritty East Vancouver and is considered a “must-visit” destination by craft beer fans worldwide.

The $1000 Bottles: A total of ten bottles were designed and made of hand blown glass by Terminal City Glass Co-op’s Brad Turner. Adorning these bottles are one of a kind prehistoric mammoth ivory pendants made by local sculptor Richard Marcus. The ivory used for these pendants is from a tusk estimated to be 35,000 years old and they are complimented with a 14K gold clasp. Both of these East Vancouver artists are renowned for their craft and their studios are located within walking distance from the brewery.

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