World’s Wealthiest Booze Barons

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Forbes recently released their annual list of the wealthiest people in the world. Thirteen people on the Full List Of The World’s 500 Richest People are involved in the alcohol industry, at least in part. Of those 13, ten are involved in beer companies.

The World’s Richest Booze Barons

  1. Bernard Arnault & family, LVMH (France)
    Founded 2008; The French luxury brands conglomerate LVMH owns a bewildering array of high-ends brands such as Bulgari, Dior, Louis Vuitton, TAGHeuer, but their wine and spirits division includes such brands as Belvedere Vodka, Dom Perignon, Glenmorangie, Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot, and several others
    Forbes Richest List: #15; $33.5 billion
  2. Jorge Paulo Lemann, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and also co-founded the Brazilian investment banking firm Banco Garantia, which today is known as Banco de Investimentos Credit Suisse (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #34; $19.7 billion
  3. Alejandro Santo Domingo Davila & family, SABMiller (Colombia)
    Founded 1864; Alejandro Santo Domingo, a Colombian-American financier, owns a 15% stake in SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer responsible for brands such as Fosters, Grolsch, Miller, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell
    Forbes Richest List: #102; $11.1 billion
  4. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, Heineken International (The Netherlands)
    Founded 1864; Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is the daughter of Freddy Heineken, the Dutch industrialist, and Lucille Cummins, an American from a Kentucky family of Bourbon whiskey distillers, and is the controlling owner of the world’s third-largest brewer, Heineken International, which owns a worldwide portfolio of over 170 beer brands in addition to Heineken
    Forbes Richest List: #116; $10.4 billion
  5. Marcel Herrmann Telles, Anheuser-Busch InBev, along with retailer Lojas Americanas and real estate investment firm São Carlos Empreendimentos e Participações SA (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Jorge Paulo Lemann, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #119; $10.2 billion
  6. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Real Estate Tycoon and owner of ThaiBev, (Thailand)
    Founded 1991; Sirivadhanabhakdi is a drinks entrepreneur who created Chang Beer, teaming up with Carlsberg in 1991 as part of a joint venture to tap into Thailand’s growing beer market, which at the time was dominated by the Boon Rawd Brewery, which brewed Singha beer. Three years later he launched his own beer Chang (Thai for ‘elephant’), which went on to take 60% of the local market share.
    Forbes Richest List: #141; $9 billion
  7. Carlos Alberto Sicupira, Anheuser-Busch InBev (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Marcel Herrmann Telles and Jorge Paulo Lemann, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #146; $8.9 billion
  8. Pierre Castel & family, Groupe Castel (France)
    Founded 1949; The French drinks company which Pierre founded with his his eight siblings owns or co-owns 22 French vineyards, plus 1,600 acres of vineyards in Africa, primarily in Morocco, Tunisia and Ethiopia. In 1990, they bought the African Brasseries et Glacières Internationales and has since built 45 breweries in Africa, where they now have 25% of the market there, with their two biggest beer brands, Flag and Castel
    Forbes Richest List: #166; $8 billion
  9. Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala & family, Tresalia Capital / Grupo Modelo (Mexico)
    Founded 1925; Grupo Modelo is the largest brewery in Mexico, with 63% of the Mexican beer market, and brews Corona, Modelo, Negra Modelo, Pacífico, Victoria, and others
    Forbes Richest List: #270; $5.2 billion
  10. Walter Faria, Grupo Petropolis (Brazil)
    Founded 1994; Beer and Soft drinks company whose beer brands include Itaipava, Crystal, Lokal, Black Princess, Petra and others
    Forbes Richest List: #396; $3.8 billion
  11. Rosa Anna Magno Garavoglia & family, Gruppo Campari (Italy)
    Founded 1860; Brands include Campari, Cinzano, SKYY vodka, Wild Turkey and two dozen more liquors
    Forbes Richest List: Tie #446; $3.5 billion
  12. Lorenzo Mendoza & family, Empresas Polar (Venezuela)
    Founded 1941; Conglomerate of 40 different companies with a vast portfolio of food and drinks, including Polar Beer
    Forbes Richest List: Tie #446; $3.5 billion
  13. Jean Pierre Cayard, La Martiniquaise (France)
    Founded 1936; La Martinique Rum, Porto Cruz and Poliakov Vodka
    Forbes Richest List: #483; $3.3 billion

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In addition, Forbes also created a list of America’s Richest Families, of which eight of the 179 listed are engaged in the alcohol trade, or at least made their fortunes in alcohol.

America’s Richest Booze Families

  1. Busch Family, Anheuser-Busch
    Founded: 1876; Although they recently lost control of their beer empire, the 30 or so members of the Busch family are still worth a cool 13 billion, enough to even buy some more expensive beer with flavor.
    Forbes Families List: #17; $13 billion
  2. Brown Family, Brown-Forman
    Founded 1870; The 25 members of the Brown family of Kentucky control a wine and spirits giant that includes such brands as Early Times, Finlandia vodka, Jack Daniels, Korbel, Southern Comfort and many others.
    Forbes Families List: #20; $13 billion
  3. Gallo Family, E&J Gallo Winery
    Founded 1933; Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo started their wine business in a shed in Modesto, California. Today there are around 14 family members still running the show, which is the largest U.S. wine company, accounting for one-quarter of all American wine. They also produce brandy, cider, gin, vodka, and wine coolers, along with numerous wine labels.
    Forbes Families List: #25; $9.7 billion
  4. Reyes Family, Reyes Holdings, including beer distributors Reyes Beverage Group
    Founded 1976; Christopher and M. Jude Reyes are co-chairs of the company. David “Duke” Reyes is the CEO of Reyes Beverage Group, the largest beer distributor in the U.S., while brothers James and Tom are executives at Reyes Beverage Group and brother William is a director of Reyes Holdings.
    Forbes Families List: #29; $8 billion
  5. Wirtz Family, Wirtz Beverage Group
    Founded 1926; Although they started out in real estate, they made their fortune selling alcohol beginning in 1945, and they’ve also owned the Chicago Blackhawks since 1954
    Forbes Families List: #64; $4.2 billion
  6. Coors Family, Coors Brewing
    Founded 1873; Adolph Coors founded the brewery in Golden, Colorado, and today the Coors family owns over 15% of MolsonCoors. Until 2002, Adolph’s great-grandson Peter Coors was CEO of Coors, but today is the chairman of MillerCoors.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #81; $2.9 billion
  7. John Anderson Family, Topa Equities, Ltd, which includes L.A. Bud distributor Ace Beverage Co.
    Founded 1956; The son of a barber who attended UCLA on a hockey scholarship, Anderson launched Ace Beverage in 1956 with exclusive rights to deliver Budweiser in Los Angeles. Topa Equities still has interests in beer distribution, plus real estate, insurance, and car dealerships.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #94; $2.5 billion
  8. Jackson Family, Jackson Family Wines
    Founded 1956; Jess Stonestreet Jackson and wife Barbara Banke, both lawyers, co-founded Jackson Family Wines in California in the 1980s, perhaps best know for their Kendall Jackson wines. After Jackson died of cancer at age 81 in 2011, Banke became chairman and proprietor. All five of Jackson’s children also hold interests in the company and are active in running it. Don Hartford, husband of daughter Jenny Jackson-Hartford, is CEO. The family owns 35 vineyards, including nearly 30,000 acres in California, that sell more than 6 million cases of wine a year. The flagship winery is Kendall Jackson in Sonoma County.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #100; $2.3 billion

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And finally, on the list of the Forbes 400, the Richest People in America, a couple of family members from the previous family list also made it onto this list with their personal wealth.

America’s Richest Booze Barons

  • 134. J. Christopher Reyes, Reyes Holdings; $3.7 billion; World Rank: 450
  • 134. Jude Reyes, Reyes Holdings; $3.7 billion; World Rank: 450
  • 371. Richard Yuengling, Jr., Yuengling Brewery; $1.4 billion; World Rank: 1156

The cut-off this year for the Forbes 400 was around $1.3 billion. If you’re worth less than that, you don’t quite make the list, but Forbes also created a small list of people they think are the Ones to Watch.

  • 401. Jim Koch, Boston Beer Co.; $1 billion; World Rank: Unknown

Koch was the richest person on the “Ones to Watch” list, so with a little luck he’ll join Dick Yuengling in the Billionaire Beer Boys Club next year.

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The New Yellow Journalism

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While to a certain extent it’s easy to understand the reaction of the big brewers, it’s still just sad. It’s the equivalent of negotiating with terrorists, in this case the food terrorists, so to speak. If you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about yet, it’s the so-called Food Babe, and her weird crusade against beer, among many other foodstuffs. She’s the modern version of yellow journalism, all sensationalism and almost no substance. It’s described as “a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.”

Her first salvo was last year when she sensationally claimed to expose The Shocking Ingredients in Beer. Almost every one was as un-shocking as it gets, especially if you understand the brewing process. But that’s the new yellow journalism, and unfortunately you see it all over the internet. A provocative headline to grab page views, link bait or something just overly sensational is all you need. It’s happened so many times since I’ve been writing online that I’ve lost count. And it works. The beer community rushes in to correct egregious mistakes, faulty reasoning, uninformed opinion while the hit count spikes, advertisers smile and websites raise their advertising rates. It rarely matters that what’s written is often wrong, sometimes so utterly wrong that it should be embarrassing for not only the author, but the publication, too. And yet curiously, it’s not. And for me, that’s why it’s yellow journalism. It’s not intended to be factual, or well-researched or reasoned. It’s sole purpose is to get eyeballs on the page. And facts apparently are boring. The truth is somnambulistic. Controversy, even the manufactured kind, is what brings the traffic.

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The “Food Babe” with her comically large magnifying glass.

I don’t need to rehash all that was wrong with the original missive by the Food Babe, The Shocking Ingredients in Beer. Plenty of people dissected it at the time, though none better than Ambitious Brew author Maureen Ogle, who enlisted the help of several respected brewers in her lengthy, comprehensive denunciation What’s In YOUR Beer? Or, The Dangers of Dumbassery, which she later summarized in All About Beer Magazine as Don’t Be A Knee-Jerk, Research the Facts. As Ogle notes, the Food Babe started her “research” with a “baseline list of ‘legal’ additives allowed in beer from the book ‘Chemicals Additives in Beer’ by the Center of Science and Public Interest.” Despite its name, the CSPI is a prohibitionist organization that rarely has anything to do with actual science. It’s one of the most egregiously dishonest of the bunch, in my opinion, an opinion assembled from following them for many years. They’re hardly a good place to begin an honest attempt to look at the ingredients in beer. Plus she begins by stating she’s not even a beer drinker, but prefers wine, even though many of the process chemicals she accuses beer of being composed of are also used in making wine.

A close second, there was also Thomas Cizauskas’ take in Beer Wars: The Calumny of The Food Babe. But others, before and since, have noted that Vani Hari (the Food Babe’s given name) has zero credentials in food sciences, or any other science, apparently. See, for example the RationalWiki or Joe Schwarcz: The Food Babe is anything but an expert on GMOs, writing in the Montreal Gazette. There’s no shortage of people writing about what she’s saying — pro and con — and that, of course, is the point. She’s so out there that people can’t help it; the Ann Coulter of food punditry. Despite so many people crying foul, it’s had no effect whatsoever, which is exactly what you’d expect if truth was never really the goal.

So yesterday, she doubled down and penned an open letter and petition: Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors: Tell Us What’s In Your Beer! This, despite the fact that beer is hardly a mystery, and its ingredients and processes are not only well know, but readily available to anyone who wants to learn about them. But learning about what’s really in beer has apparently no interest to Hari whatsoever. There’s no angle she can sell in that. But ignorance is indeed blissful, and over 40,000 possibly well-meaning but similarly misguided people signed her petition, despite not really understanding the current law regarding alcohol is different for most other food products.

And she even contradicts herself with the basic premise. In her ridiculous graphic, she says that we know what’s in Coca-Cola and Windex, but not beer (even though she claimed to unearth what’s in beer last year) even though anyone paying attention already knows what’s in beer, how it’s made and the process chemicals that are not in the finished product. It’s hardly the #MysteryBeer she claims it to be. That’s a joke, a lie and a very effective way to drum up visitors. There’s no mystery to end, and she knows it. But it’s a fabulous way to get more attention for herself. And boy is it working.

But worst of all, earlier today ABI quickly caved. As a public company, I presume they concluded that the publicity was bad for their image, despite the absurdity of it. Of course, if she’d done even a modicum of actual research, she would have known that since at least 2012, ABI created a website (probably in response to the watering down claims) called tapintoyourbeer.com , which lists for every product they make, the ABV, fat, energy, carbohydrates and proteins. Now they’ve begun listing the primary ingredients for some of their products. For example, for Budweiser they list: “Water, Barley Malt, Rice, Yeast, Hops (ingredient listing is consistent with the FD&C Act).” In their official statement, they say they’ll be expanding that information with additional beer ingredients.

We provide significant information about our beer and their nutritional content through both our consumer hotline (1-800-DIAL-BUD) and our global consumer-information website www.tapintoyourbeer.com, which we have expanded over the years. This exceeds what is required of alcohol producers and is beyond what many other beer, wine and hard liquor producers provide. However, as American consumer needs evolve, we want to meet their expectations. Therefore, we are working to list our beer ingredients on our website, just as you would see for other food and non-alcohol beverage producers. We are beginning immediately, having incorporated this information earlier today on www.tapintoyourbeer.com for our flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, and will be listing this for our other brands in the coming days.

To which, the Food Babe is claiming victory for her and her “Food Babe Army,” which is apparently what she calls her followers or fans, and states that they have “change[d] the policies of a multi-billion dollar company overnight.” But she’s not done, not until every brewery falls in line with her demands. She’s now posted a new graphic crowing about ABI caving in to her demands and asks what MillerCoors is hiding now that they’re “drinking in the dark,” whatever that means.

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It’s curious how she had this photo of herself in front of a wall of beer cans all ready to go.

But according to Brewbound, MillerCoors also listed their primary ingredients on their Facebook page earlier today.

At MillerCoors, we put quality and safety above all else. Our beers are regulated by the TTB and every one of our products meets all federal and state regulatory requirements.

We’re proud of the care that goes into the production of all of our beers and have been brewing great-tasting beers with the highest quality ingredients for more than 440 combined years.

From the purity of the water we use to the highest-quality hops and malted barley, our brewmasters go to great lengths to ensure the quality and consistency of our beers.

We also value transparency and are happy to comply with the request for additional information. Earlier this year, we led all alcohol companies by voluntarily placing a nutritional label on our Miller64 brand and we will be putting more ingredient information online in the days ahead.

We will be including the ingredient list starting with our most popular brands, representing the overwhelming majority of our brand volume:

Coors Light, Miller Lite, Blue Moon Belgian White, Coors Banquet, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller High Life, Keystone Light and Miller Fortune.
Coors Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Lite: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller High Life: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Keystone Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Blue Moon Belgian White: Water, barley malt, wheat, oats, yeast, hops, orange peel and coriander
Coors Banquet: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Genuine Draft: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Fortune: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops

Maybe she didn’t have time to update her graphics again. Certainly she knows Miller Coors posted these, because she’s posted on their Facebook page, with this:

I have an email from you that says you use “corn syrup” and it’s a main ingredient in your beer – also – you said via email that bluemoon and banquet both have corn syrup. Where’s the full list of ingredients?

They replied, trying to explain that “the corn we use is a liquid corn brewing adjunct, but it is not high fructose corn syrup.” The ignorance about brewing displayed in the comments, presumably by her Food Babe Army, is as alarming as it is remarkable.

The problem is with the first expose, where the Food Babe brought up many different chemicals and items which are used in the brewing process but are not ingredients. Some are used to cool the beer through the process, some for cleaning, and some for other purposes that don’t end up in the beer you drink, some of which never touch the beer at all. For just one example, she claimed glycol was in beer. But that’s merely a coolant used to chill beer in the brewing process. It never touches the beer … ever. If it did, it would ruin the beer. But it’s still there in her list, displaying either a comic ignorance or a malicious intent to mislead. But that’s the irony. She’s claiming to be holding brewers’ feet to the fire to be truthful and transparent, while she herself is being completely dishonest. If her intent was honest, by now she would have modified her earlier attack to reflect the reality she would have, or should have, learned in the year since she first made her absurd claims about what’s in beer. If she was being honest, she’d admit some, if not all, of what she’d claimed was in beer, really wasn’t, for the simple fact that it’s not. That she appears to have learned nothing in the year since she first made her sensationalist claims, and stands by every one of her absurd statements, tells us everything we need to know about her veracity and her real intentions.

Most brewers I know don’t have a problem rattling off their beers’ ingredients nor would they probably mind listing them on the bottle or can, if they were required to do so. It’s not a conspiracy that they don’t have to currently. They do have to list them when they submit each beer for approval to the TTB, who regulate beer and other alcohol at the federal level. There’s already been discussions about listing nutritional information and/or alcohol and servings information. So nobody’s getting away with anything, or trying to poison you with chemicals, as the Food Babe suggests. That’s just bullshit. Whether or not you like the beers made by the big brewers, they’re very well made and modern breweries are industrial and technological marvels. For the most part, they’ve perfected the science of brewing. It’s too bad the fizzy yellow color of their beer is now the same color of the journalism attacking the beer industry.


UPDATE (6.13): To further prove my point, throughout the day, several people have commented that the Food Babe does not allow any dissenting opinions on her Facebook page, removing and banning anything challenging her point of view. And I’m not talking about anything insulting or harassing, I’m talking about science that refutes her. For example, the gentleman who writes the Facebook page Science Corner told me he was “blocked when I pointed out her inconsistencies and lack of fact checking. As a scientist I referenced my comments with actual facts taken from peer reviewed scientific journals.” Nothing says “honesty” like not allowing any debate. To makes matters worse, apparently her minions are now attacking me personally. Not my arguments, mind you, just my character. For example, one Food Babe Army soldier asked me if I was “bought & sold by Monsanto” or speculated that perhaps “Most of [my] investments [are] in big AG.” Hilarious, they really know me so well. I’m not exactly sure why dissent is so assiduously forbidden, if — as her followers insist — she’s just trying to get at the truth. As one commenter claims, “she’s trying to help WE THE PEOPLE make better decisions so we don’t become sick.” Apparently her plan to help these people with their decision-making will be accomplished by not allowing honest debate. Yet I’m the one who is “the YELLOW JOURNALIST,” as one of her wingnuts spat at me. It’s simply amazing.

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UPDATE 2 (6.17): Several other rants about how dishonest Hari is being with her anti-beer campaign are worth taking a look at. First, Maureen Ogle wrote some new observations in Beware the Dangers of [Profit-Driven] Dumbassery. A couple more include Trevor Butterworth writing in Forbes, Quackmail: Why You Shouldn’t Fall For The Internet’s Newest Fool, The Food Babe, and Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe): The Jenny McCarthy of Food by David Gorski, writing in Science-Based Medicine. We’re all continuing to get trolled by the Food Babe Army, which is almost funny. One interesting troll tried to find fault with my take on glycol as a coolant, but mistook propylene glycol for another similar-sounding food safe compound used in salad dressing, among other things. For him it was a “gotcha” moment and (despite being wrong) he then declared (again) that I was “the yellow journalist.” This brings up two points in my mind. First, what the hell is wrong with these people? Why are they even using the term “the yellow journalist,” as if that’s a thing? They clearly don’t understand what yellow journalism is. I helpfully included a link to an overview of yellow journalism so that anyone unfamiliar with the more than 100-year-old term (almost everybody, one presumes) could see what I was talking about. The second point, and the more troubling of the two, is the idea that if Vani’s Army found one mistake in what I’ve written then that invalidates my entire argument and means that I’m the one engaging in yellow journalism. It’s a curious argument. They’re holding Vani’s critics to a standard of perfection that they’re not willing to impose on her. As far as I can tell, this has become about emotions and belief, and the facts no longer seem to matter, if indeed they ever did. That’s a scary prospect, but how else to explain why so many people seem to believe what she’s saying so uncritically and continue to do so when faced with numerous refutations disproving what she’s saying, and which are actually backed up with real science or expertise or experience. And speaking of being uncritical, it’s quite remarkable how many mainstream media outlets have given Hari a forum, and are passing on her misinformation without ever doing any fact-checking or maybe getting a second or contrary opinion. So much for being fair and balanced. But again it comes down to sensationalism, and the fact that controversy is what people what to see, the truth be damned.

UPDATE (7.14): Maureen Ogle today mentioned a new piece about the Food Babe in the Charlotte Observer, ostensibly the Food Babe’s home paper, Charlotte’s Food Babe has lots of fans – and some critics. Unsurprisingly, it’s mostly a fluff piece although at least it does address some of the criticisms leveled at Vani Hari. But it lets her get away with more than a few howlers, such as “Hari says she is simply trying to help people understand what’s in their food and hold companies accountable. She says she has researched her critics and that they attack anyone who opposes alternative nutrition.” Really, she’s “researched her critics?” I’d feel a lot better if she’d research their arguments and the science behind her original absurd claims.

Interestingly, the article mentions that she, and her husband, left lucrative “six-figure incomes” to run the website full-time, one that’s “packed with advertising and product endorsements. You can even buy an eating-plan subscription for $17.99 a month.” As someone who makes zero from writing this blog (and that’s on purpose I should add), I’d say you have to sell an awful lot of snake oil to make that work. Of course, the “babe” in food babe all but guarantees that she’ll get television time since we love people who are telegenic over substance so you’ll not be surprised in the least that she also has a “William Morris Endeavor agent to handle her TV appearances.” Frighteningly, a publisher is even putting out a book, “The Food Babe Way,” so that doesn’t sound like a cult or anything scary.

As to where she makes her money, something her “Army” loves to level at her critics (for example, commenters asked if I was being paid by Monsanto, oddly enough), it’s been revealed that she was a paid consultant to Chick-fil-A, but also claimed victory over the fast food chain when they announced they’d “use chicken that was free of antibiotics within five years,” posting “We Did It Again!” According to the Charlotte Observer, “Hari has confirmed that she was paid by Chick-fil-A for her work as a consultant on their ingredients, a fact she appears to have not mentioned on her website.” Yet none of her followers apparently have a problem with or see any contradiction in that.

Then there’s this headline: “Debate is her sport.” That’s almost funny, if it wasn’t so crucial to what’s wrong with someone like like Hari. She may claim to love debate, but she assiduously avoids it by banning anyone who questions her “findings,” even politely. The comments section of any piece written about her is rife with people telling tales of being banned, even this post.

Under “Science or silliness?,” the Observer brings up the nonsense about glycol, thusly:

Her claim about “an ingredient found in antifreeze” being added to beer also draws criticism. Actually, the ingredient used is propylene glycol alginate, a kelp derivative used to stabilize head foam, not propylene glycol, a coolant. She later clarified this on her website.

While she sort of updated information about her original claim, under Big Update: The Truth That Beer Companies Have Not Made Public Yet, under the subheading “‘Propylene Glycol Alginate’ is added to beer as a foam stabilizer,” she continues to mistake Propylene Glycol Alginate, or PGA, for “Propylene Glycol” that’s used in antifreeze, even though they’re two completely different animals. And in the original post, The Shocking Ingredients of Beer, still lists “Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze)” exactly the same way as when it was first posted last fall. So the that misinformation is still being disseminated, despite her claim to have “clarified” it. Considering she keeps talking about “transparency,” why not update the original post? Well, the real reason is she’s still not even close to understanding what she’s talking about, and as far as I can tell she no intention of even trying to.

Great Divide Announces New Production Brewery

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This is great news. Brian Dunn of Great Divide Brewing in Denver, Colorado, has announced that they will be building a brand new production brewery on a five-acre site in the River North neighborhood. When completed, it will take capacity to around 100,000 barrels, and ultimately to a maximum of 250,000 when all is said and done. Last year, Great Divide made a little bit more than 37,000 barrels of beer. Phase One will start in a couple of months, which is to demolish the abandoned auto parts warehouse that currently sits on the land. Next, they’ll build a 70,000-square-foot warehouse to use for storage of kegs and packaged beer, a priority. That should be finished by the spring of 2015, qnd will also include a new canning line, meaning that Great Divide will begin canning their beers next year.

According to the Denver Post, “A tasting room and beer garden adjacent to the new production brewery – overlooking a planned city park, the South Platte River and the mountains beyond – is at least two and possibly three years down the road.” Once the brewery is operational, they’re repurpose the existing downtown brewery for smaller batch beers and special releases.

Congratulations to Brian and the brewery. I can’t wait to see the new brewery up and running.

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Brian Dunn, on the former car salvage yard that will house the new Great Divide brewery, tap room and beer garden (photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Beer Outmaneuvering Wine

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Here’s some interesting news from the wine world, h/t to Jenn Litz from Craft Business Daily. Charles Gill, who runs Wine Metrics, which creates “on-premise wine distribution information in the U.S. market.” According to Litz, Gill has been saying lately that he believes that craft beer is taking market share from wine, which is curious, because “trade show rhetoric has often been the exact opposite.”

On Gill’s blog, Wine List USA, he claims that Craft Beer is Outmaneuvering Wine, and lists ten ways in which he believes that’s happening. Here’s his raw list.

  1. Value
  2. Innovation
  3. Promotion
  4. Community
  5. Venues
  6. Cross-Fertilization
  7. New Traditions
  8. Customer Loyalty
  9. Food Compatibility
  10. Gatekeepers

For a better understanding of that list, read his explanations for each one at the source, 10 Ways Craft Beer is Outmaneuvering Wine. I don’t tend to think about wine and beer as an us versus them proposition, but obviously the pie that is all alcohol consumption is divided into wedges of how much is spent on each type. There’s no getting around it. If more people buy beer, something else isn’t doing as well. It’s theoretically possible that the pie is just growing and people are buying more beer, but are not buying less wine, spirits, cider or what have you, but that’s not exactly realistic. If anything, the pie’s been shrinking, sad to say, as people are drinking less overall than they used to.

As to Gill’s list, I definitely agree with Value, Innovation and some of the Community aspects he mentions. And I also think Food Compatibility and most of what he says about New Traditions ring true, but I’m less convinced by the others. Do you agree? Or Disagree? If, so why, and to which ones?

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Beer Glassware Catalog 1892

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Here’s an interesting historical artifact. It’s a trade catalog for bars and restaurants from a company in New York, the L & M Goldsticker company, which published an “illustrated catalogue” of “bar room glassware and bottlers supplies” in 1892.

Here’s the cover of the 80-page catalog:

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And the back cover shows the brick and mortar store on Fulton Street in New York City.

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They carried a surprising array of beer glasses for the discerning bar, including some for specific types of beer, along with a number of other accessories and equipment. You can see the entire catalogue online at the Hagley Digital Archives. Below is a majority of the pages with beer glasses on them.

Pages 6 and 7:
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Page 12:
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Pages 14 and 15:
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Pages 16 and 17:
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Pages 22 and 23:
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Beverage Industry’s State Of American Beer Report

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The Atlantic magazine had a good round-up of the State of American Beer, based on a report from the trade publication Beverage Industry. Beverage Industry’s March issue had a series of articles on different segments, including Craft brewers’ sales growth continues, Domestic beer case sales decline, Mexican beers dominate imported beer growth and Hard cider draws in consumers from outside the beer category. In addition, at the same time they released a separate report, the 2014 U.S. Beer Category Report.

You could spend the time to read through all of them (and I’d encourage you to do so) but to get an overview of the reports, The Atlantic’s coverage provides the highlights (and even does a better job with the charts). For example, here’s the top craft brands from 2013.

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And here’s case sales by brand in a piechart.

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And this last one, the percentage change in case sales, is amazing because is shows just how fast Lagunitas is growing, though Stone’s doing pretty well on the growth front, too.

top-craft-beers-cases-change-2013

Top 50 Breweries For 2013

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The Brewers Association has also just announced the top 50 breweries in the U.S. based on sales, by volume, for 2013. This includes all breweries, regardless of size or other parameters. Here is the new list:
ba-top-50-breweries-2013

Here is this year’s press release.

Not too much movement again this year, except for a few small shufflings, and no changes at all in the top ten. Only three new breweries made the list; Ballast Point, Narragansett (which had been on the year before in 2011) and Left Hand Brewing.

For the past six years, I’ve also posted an annotated list, showing the changes in each brewery’s rank from year to year. This year, the BA thoughtfully has already done that, saving me a lot of time and math. If you want to see the previous annotated lists for comparison, here is 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.

Is Africa The Next Beer Frontier?

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The Drinks Business has a summary of a new report, Beer on the Frontier: Opportunities for Brewers in the African Continent, in which Rabobank analysts conclude that Africa is poised to be the next big market for beer in the coming years, as populations and, hopefully, standards of living improve.

I was talking with Chris Swersey (competition manager of the judging for GABF and the World Beer Cup) recently about worldwide beer competitions. As far as we could conclude, Africa is the only continent (excluding Antarctica) without a big commercial beer event with judging. With Rabobank predicting that it will “become the world’s next fastest growing market for beer,” perhaps that will change.

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Beer In Grocery Stores: Oh, The Horror!

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Here in sunny California, we can stroll down to the local grocery store, or convenience store, and buy a six-pack of beer. It’s not a big deal. It’s been that way since I moved here in 1985, and probably was that way long before I arrived. I pretty much take it for granted, but there are still states where adults still can’t buy a beer without going to a special store, sometimes run by the state itself, to protect its tax revenue, but more importantly to tightly control the distribution of demon alcohol. My home state of Pennsylvania was (and is) one such state. All of the states’ alcohol laws were written in the wake of prohibition’s end, and were designed with that failed legacy in mind. Most of these laws today are antiquated and out-of-date in the face of modern life.

But changing alcohol laws are harder than many other laws, because there’s a special layer of angst that lawmakers must face. Alcohol is still treated as a toxic substance, one that poses a danger, despite it having been around since the dawn of civilization and having been legal for adults for literally the entirety of human history, with the notable exception of thirteen years in the mid-20th century. But prohibitionist strategy since essentially the moment the 21st Amendment was ratified has remained unchanged: to make it as difficult as possible for adults to obtain legal alcohol. And so for the past 80+ years they’ve been tireless in their efforts to make us work for our beer. So now the state of Kansas is seeking to modernize the state and allow beer, wine and spirits to be sold in grocery and convenience stores. The modest bill takes into account liquor stores’ current monopolies and gives “them 10 years to adapt to increased competition in the marketplace. Beer sales would not be legal until 2017, wine in 2020, and spirits in 2024.” But that would mean there would be more places where adults could legally buy something that they’re legally entitled to purchase, and we certainly don’t want to encourage that. Or rather the prohibitionists don’t want people to be able to. Alcohol Justice tweeted out their displeasure with Kansas, chastising lawmakers there with a simple admonishment: “Bad move.”

I’m sure they have an excellent reason why it’s a “bad move” for adults to have more freedom and convenience in purchasing their alcohol, something they’re already allowed to do, but so far A.J. is mum on the whys are wherefores. Although you can be sure it has something to do with protecting children or how much more the state will be harmed if people can increasingly be able to engage in the legally permissible act of enjoying a beer. They’ve never been too strong on logic or rational thought, so maybe it’s best they stick to the sublimely absurd. Because as far as I can tell, Alcohol Justice telling the legislature of the state of Kansas “bad move” is the schoolyard bully equivalent of “because we said so” or “because we don’t like it.”

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Offline Sales Traffic Drivers

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Earlier today there was an interesting infographic tweeted by the Wall Street Journal, by their WSJ Graphics division, entitled Offline Sales, showing how “retailers rely heavily on consumer products to drive store traffic.” In the top spot was “food and alcohol,” with 99% of $884 billion in sale made in stores, and only 1% online. That’s not too much of a surprise, as it’s somewhat a pain in the neck to order food or alcohol online, and in some states it’s even illegal (for the alcohol, at least). Even where it is, it’s prohibitively expensive for most beers. The majority of beers bought online, I’d guess, are of the rarer, hard-to-find variety. But the chart also suggests that beer is therefore very important to retailers trying to persuade customers to get off their laptops and drive down to their brick and mortar stores.

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