American Brewery Count Reaches 4,000 Milestone

american-beer
The Brewers Association announced this morning that the American Beer Industry has hit another milestone: there are now over 4,000 active breweries in the U.S. It also appears likely that the previous high of 4,131, which was achieved in 1873, will likely be broken if not by the end of this year, then certainly sometime in 2016.

Here’s the press release from the BA’s economist, Bart Watson:

Much of the beer world’s attention in the past week was focused on the Great American Beer Festival. However, the week also brought another milestone in the resurgence of local American brewing, with the Brewers Association database passing 4,000 active breweries. Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is almost certainly the first time the United States has crossed the 4,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s.

Van Wieren (1995) notes that the Internal Revenue Department counted 2,830 “ale and lager breweries in operation” in 1880, down from a high point of 4,131 in 1873. Given the strong pace of openings (approximately two openings/day with a net increase of 1.9/day factoring in closings), it is likely that later in 2015, or early in 2016, there will be more active breweries in the United States than at any point in our nation’s history. This is a remarkable achievement that would have been unthinkable in late 1970s, when the number of American breweries dipped below 100.

More recently, it seems only a short while ago that I was writing about passing the 3,000 brewery mark, and many of the same thoughts still apply: the continued return to a localization of beer production and the potential for future growth balanced by ever increasing competition and future challenges for breweries to differentiate themselves. I’ll also repeat what I said then:

“What it does not mean is that we’ve reached a saturation point. Most of the new entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns. What it means to be a brewery is shifting, back toward an era when breweries were largely local, and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant. How many neighborhoods in the country could still stand to gain from a high-quality brewpub or micro taproom? While a return to the per capita ratio of 1873 seems unlikely (that would mean more than 30,000 breweries), the resurgence of American brewing is far from over.”

The past 15+ months have borne out that statement as the map of U.S. brewing has continued to diversify. There are now breweries in more than 2,000 unique cities across all 50 states. At the same time, there are also nearly 1,000 cities with a population of more than 10,000 that don’t have a local brewery yet, and numerous neighborhoods in larger cities without a local brewpub or taproom. As America’s beer culture continues to deepen and spread, there are still ample opportunities for well-differentiated, high-quality entrants. So, to all the hard-working brewers/brewery staff that have made 4,000 breweries a reality, and to the next wave of innovative entrants to follow, cheers!

Bountiful Breweries

Taco Bell Introduces Beer

taco-bell
Taco Bell announced today the opening of their first Taco Bell Cantina in Wicker Park, Chicago. The new restaurant had a soft opening today, with a grand opening scheduled for September 22. A second one will open in San Francisco later this month. One aspect about the new concept, known as “urban” restaurants, that stands out is they will serve beer, along with wine, rum, vodka and tequila.

From the press release:

“These new urban restaurants are a critical part of our growth strategy in markets where people experience our brand differently,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer, Taco Bell Corp. “Today’s consumers are living in more urban settings and our new restaurants cater to their lifestyle in adapting our traditional restaurant concept to fit their modern needs.”

The Taco Bell Urban Concept incorporates five consumer trends that balance relevancy and brand authenticity:

  1. Urbanization: The Taco Bell Urban Restaurant Concept reflects the Millennial trend of seeking more urban environments to live, work and play. These restaurants are ideally suited to fit in with pedestrian areas without drive-thrus.
  2. Digitization: Every point of the customer’s ordering journey is optimized through technology, including digital menu boards, TV monitors and Taco Bell mobile ordering and payment app pick up.
  3. Localization: Taco Bell incorporated the local architecture of the neighborhoods each restaurant serves.
    • The Wicker Park restaurant’s brick walls and prismatic glass were restored to help preserve the 100-year-old building. The location also features a mural designed by local artist, Revise CMW, which serves as a nod to the neighborhood’s history as an artistic hub.
    • The San Francisco restaurant, located near AT&T Park, features a patio and mobile pick-up window to cater to the quick pace, tech savvy and vibrant community.
  4. Green: The new urban locations will be more energy efficient with systems including LED lighting, use of reclaimed elements where possible and recycling.
  5. Transparency: An open kitchen design and food served in open face baskets gives customers a look inside Taco Bell’s quality ingredients.

Taco Bell Cantina restaurants will be the first and only Taco Bell restaurants to serve alcohol to customers who are of legal drinking age. The San Francisco restaurant will serve beer and wine only, while Wicker Park will serve beer, wine, sangria and twisted Freezes. Cantina restaurants will also feature a new tapas-style menu of shareable appetizers – including nachos and rolled tacos – during designated hours each evening, in addition to the full standard Taco Bell Menu.

taco-bell-essay-beer-wine-liquor-alcohol-wicker-park-chicago

According to the Chicago Tribune:

The menu features three 16-ounce frozen drinks that look straight out of the Kwik-E-Mart; spike your cherry-red Cantina Punch, electric-yellow Cantina Margarita or Ninja-Turtle-green Mountain Dew Baja Blast with your choice of Captain Morgan rum ($6.19), Ketel One vodka ($6.69) or Don Julio tequila ($7.19).

You’ll also find Steelhead wine ($4) in individual-size twist-off bottles, and two taps pouring Dos Equis ($4) and Fat Tire ($4.50).

Toast to the fact you’re drinking in a Taco Bell over a new menu of what the brand is calling Shareables — essentially, appetizer baskets. Choose from regular or chili-cheese nachos, quesadilla triangles, mini taquitos (called “rolled tacos”) and, surprisingly, chicken tenders, which are actually the best of the bunch.

The new T-Bell also comes with exposed brick, an open kitchen and a fancy new name: Taco Bell Cantina.

But give up your dreams of a drink after closing time at your local bar. Taco Bell Cantina will serve wine, beer and liquor until only 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday. 1439 N. Milwaukee Ave.

tacobellbooze

Expect to see Alcohol Justice and the prohibitionists going apoplectic over this news.

MillerCoors Acquires Majority Stake In Saint Archer

saint-archer millercoors
Not quite as big news as yesterday, but certainly continuing a trend. This Morning, MillerCoors announced that Saint Archer Brewing of San Diego, California will be joining their craft division, Tenth and Blake, as they acquire a majority interest in the small brewery.

Here’s the press release:

Tenth and Blake, the craft and import division of MillerCoors, announced today an agreement to acquire a majority interest in Saint Archer Brewing Company.

Founded in San Diego in 2013 by a talented group of entrepreneurs, artists, skateboarders and surfers, Saint Archer brews an award-winning range of ales including Blonde Ale, IPA, White Ale and Pale Ale. Saint Archer expects to sell 35,000 barrels of beer in 2015, up more than 100 percent over 2014, making it one of the fastest-growing breweries in California. Tenth and Blake plans to support its continued growth under the ongoing leadership of Josh Landan, Saint Archer co-founder and president.

“We have always wanted to get great beer into more people’s hands,” said Landan. “We were fortunate that brewers big and small were interested in partnering with us, but Tenth and Blake was the clear choice. Tenth and Blake shares our passion for putting great beer first. Joining Tenth and Blake allows us to keep doing what we love right here in San Diego, but now with more resources to innovate and grow. With Tenth and Blake’s help, we hope to one day be a national brand.”

Saint Archer’s management and their team will continue to brew, package, ship, and sell Saint Archer’s outstanding portfolio of high-quality brands. Saint Archer will be run as a separate business unit of Tenth and Blake.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with Saint Archer,” said Scott Whitley, president and CEO of Tenth and Blake. “Saint Archer is consistent with our strategy of building our high-end portfolio while driving topline growth. Josh and his team represent everything we look for in a partner. Saint Archer brews award-winning ales across a variety of styles that are complementary to our current portfolio—including some outstanding IPAs. We’re excited at the prospect of working together to support the continued success of Saint Archer.”

Saint Archer picked up two gold medals at the 2014 San Diego International Beer Festival and a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.

Saint Archer joins other leading crafts in the Tenth and Blake portfolio, including Blue Moon Brewing Company, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Crispin Cider Company and a minority equity stake in Terrapin Beer Company.

The transaction is expected to complete in October 2015. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

st-archer

Heineken To Acquire 50% Stake In Lagunitas

lagunitas-circle heineken-white
Well this was certainly unexpected. I knew that ABI had met with Lagunitas founder Tony Magee but had been rebuffed. But today, Lagunitas Brewing announced that Heineken was acquiring a 50% stake in the Petaluma brewery. Apparently “Lagunitas will continue to be led by Tony Magee … and the company will continue to operate as an independent entity.” The deal is structured as a joint venture and is with the global Heineken rather than Heineken USA.

Here’s the Heineken press release and as it was posted on Lagunitas:

Heineken N.V. today has announced the acquisition of a 50% shareholding in the Lagunitas Brewing Company, the fifth largest craft brewer in the United States by volume. Lagunitas owns a stable of award-winning brands, including Lagunitas IPA. Lagunitas IPA is the largest India Pale Ale brand in the United States and has become a benchmark for the category. The transaction will provide HEINEKEN with the opportunity to build a strong foothold in the dynamic craft brewing category on a global scale, whilst it provides Lagunitas with a global opportunity to present its beers to new consumers in a category that is showing exciting international growth opportunities.

Founded in California in 1993, Lagunitas is estimated to sell c. 1 million hectolitres of beer in 2015 from its two world-class breweries in Petaluma, California, and Chicago, Illinois. A third brewery is currently under construction in Azusa, California. The brewer has a strong track record of growth, with 2012 – 2014 revenue CAGR at 58%. Its other leading brands include A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Daytime, Pils, Sucks, Hop Stoopid and Maximus. Lagunitas has a nationwide presence in the United States and the brewer has expanded into a number of other markets including the UK, Canada, Sweden and Japan, offering strong potential for continued growth outside the United States.

In the United States, craft beer continues to outperform the overall beer market, and now represents 11% of total volumes. Within the craft segment, IPA is the fastest growing category.

Lagunitas will continue to be led by Tony Magee, its founder and Executive Chairman, alongside the existing management team and the company will continue to operate as an independent entity.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to complete in the 4th quarter of 2015. Financial terms are not disclosed.

lagunitas-logo

For more background, and offering a more personal insight, Tony Magee posted his thoughts about the deal on his Tumblr:

The Future will not be like the Past

Furthur….

So….. this morning you may have heard the exciting news that we announced a powerful joint venture with Heineken to export the exciting vibe of American craft beer globally. If you did, then you know the reason for my previous ten blog entries. What you might not know is how the thinking came about that brought us to this opportunity or how it is that this new relationship will work. If you’re interested, dear reader, please read on.

Our time in Craft Brewing didn’t begin on Craft’s first day, that day came thirty years before we started. Initially in SanFrancisco on 8th Street and then 20 years later around California and the Pacific Northwest. However, from the first day the world of Craft resembled the river in the proverb by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus which says that ‘You can never step in the same river twice; It won’t be the same river and you won’t be the same person’.

The nature of Craft has been on a never-ending curve towards something that it never imagined for itself. In total in the U.S.A. Craft Beer still represents only 9% of all the beer enjoyed. That’s less than one-in-ten. Yet, in places like San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest it approaches and even exceeds 50% of the world of beer. This past February, for one week, our IPA 12-packs were the #1 beer package in the whole of the Bay Area. Number 2 was a big brewer’s 30-packs and #3 was another big brewer’s 24-pack. That kind of thing was not even dreamt about just 5 years earlier. I believe that the West Coast scene is a forecast for the rest of the country and even the rest of the world. It’ll take time, but it is entirely possible. So it is that we have worked hard and grown with that opportunity and we have been driven by a spirit of adventure.

A blog post here a few episodes back was called ‘On Finishing a Poem’ and in it I thought through the nature of the terminal point of a creative adventure. How do you know when you have put the right amount of the right stuff into a thing? Well, you only know when you know, and sometimes it takes a baseball bat to the forehead to notice. For me it was the ill-fated trade-mark dispute back in April. After the dust settled, which took a while, I looked at Lagunitas and realized that we had already infused it with a lot of the right stuff and that it didn’t need to be endlessly recreated for it to have a good time interacting with beer-lovers across the country. By that time we were already looking towards Lagunitas#3 in Azusa with a view towards another brewery after that. We already had ideas of new flavors and we had ideas about new ways to make more connections with more people. The domestic future was a living thing in our minds. In other words, we were already working out an exciting path of worthy challenges within the 50 states, but there is the whole world to think about too…

About the same time we launched Lagunitas in Ireland and I met people there who were big fans of U.S. Craft flavors, some of whom were themselves newly minted brewers, and I realized that the whole damn world of humans may well want to enjoy these same flavors. When I got back home I thought long and hard about how to aim at that truth, how can we get there, to the whole world? I thought about going it alone and working our way through the weeds to that future reality. But I thought also about all of the ‘deals’ going on inside of Craft these days. Private Equity money, Budweiser and now Miller/Coors buying our peers. Family Offices investing. People with big money from the get-go coming in alongside all of the rest of us inspired amateurs.

Here’s my thinking on things, if it matters. I’ve watched for the last few years as some good brewers have made their own decisions about their own futures and the futures of their people and brands. I’ve watched and felt strongly that it was a problematic thing. I’ve watched and tried to learn what it was that was happening. Craft Brewing, the thing itself and the environment it lives in, is freakin’ complicated enough. The entrance of giant piles of Private Equity money and Mega Brewers is disturbing. Not because any of you here will be corrupted by it all, but because the distribution and retail tiers and the merely-craft-aware peeps out there can be corrupted. Beer is an old biz in the US and it used to be very orderly. Craft disrupted that and now the old order wants to find a way back to the past. It won’t work, but it’s going to try.

Amid all of this uncertainty, and being 55 years old going on 80, I had to think long and hard about how to steer our ship into these new waters. There are basically five categories of options that range from indifference all the way to going head-first over the transom and selling the business to someone else to steer the ship instead.

I wrote about the five structural creatures that constitute the zoology of ‘Optionality’ in another blog post and that post ended with the question, ‘is there a sixth way?’. Our new Joint Venture with Heineken is that ’sixth way’. It represents a mutual respect society, a meeting of equals, a partnership of peers. The graduation of American Craft Brewing along with the people who brew it onto the world stage.

Selling one’s business entirely is one thing. This is not that. Selling a stake to a PE fund that will need to re-sell it in a few years is another thing. This is not that. ESOPs are cool but they do not pave a road to bigger opportunities for the people and the brand. This is not that either. What we have created in this relationship is a wide staircase to the sky for all of our people and for our brand as well as for the home-grown vibe of American Craft brewing.

Some might say I’ve changed my mind. Well, I have. But the world around us has changed too and if learning leads to new insight, that’s the best kind of change imaginable. The hard part is discovering truly positive change within the possible avenues forward.

I have also thought about all of the inspired new breweries coming to the scene and that the landscape may well become uncomfortable someday soon. I worried that Craft was beginning to compete with other Craft, a thing that hadn’t happened in the past when everyone looked to the far horizon for opportunities. But that’s not a terrible thing, it’s just nature doing its Darwinian thing. And there is the reality that I’m not really even middle-aged anymore unless I expect to live to be 110, which I don’t. I thought about how all of the people who have made their bets alongside mine would do if I wasn’t here. Maybe everything would be fine, and maybe not. Some of them are my age while others are just beginning their very own working lives right now with Lagunitas.

If I was going to do anything at all it would have to provide big opportunities for those same people and not just be safe-harbor for me and my shareholder partners. It would have to provide something that we could not readily build for ourselves. Historically, the history of breweries shows them to be two or three-generation endeavors, but I only have one of those for myself. I think that a lot of Craft Brewery owners might well be thinking the same thing. After all, no one gets out of here alive. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to spend the next ten of the dwindling count of years remaining on the clock and I decided that I did not want to spend it worrying about what would happen in the fifty states alone. I decided that I wanted to build a ‘sky-hook’. I wanted to see if anyone else saw what I saw in the rest of the global market for great tasting beer.

There’s a pertinent Friedrich Nietzsche parable about a ‘madman’ who comes into a town square holding a lighted lantern declaring to the town that he has important news. He tells his story and the people laugh and berate him in disbelief, throwing stones to drive him off. Finally he gives up saying, ‘I have come too soon’’. He drops the lantern, the light goes out, and he departs.

I wondered if my idea of globalization for American Craft too had also come soon. I thought about who might see what I saw and if the time was right to reach out to that other brewer. I thought about who that other brewer might be and the list was very short. The list of truly global beer brands is a short one. It certainly would not include the ‘bankers’ who own the great Anheuser-Busch now, nor would it be the South Africans who control the other two large brewers in the US who are themselves essentially ‘bankers’. The global brewing scene is a very consolidated one. Consolidation has been the modus operandi for the last 40 years, so there really are very few global brewers, and at that maybe only one actually global beer brand! In my mind only one Brewer stood out as truly global, family-owned and still brewers first; Heineken. We talked with a few others but there was really only one relationship that seemed acceptable.

When we, the Madman in the Parable, came into the square with our lantern, holding up the light of our ideas, we was stunned to see that that one particular brewer understood what we were talking about. They welcomed a dialogue about these crazy ideas of order. They saw what we saw- a global beer business in a state of change, and they wanted to work together to explore this brave new world. We had indeed NOT come too soon.

In them we met a global brewer who uses no adjuncts in their flagship beer; malt only. We met a brewer that is still controlled by its founder’s great-granddaughter. We met a brewer whose CEO/Chairman understood the details of the brewing process. We met people who thoroughly understood the revolutionary aspects of what beer-lovers have wrought in the America. We met people who laughed easily along with us at our own history and our predilections. After all, they are from Amsterdam, if you get my drift. More to the point, we met a company that saw and understood that we could only work together if we could continue as we are, steering our own ship here and abroad, being ourselves and exporting exactly that to communities all over the world, beginning with Mexico…! They wanted what it is that we wanted.

What grew from these conversations was an opportunity like none other to-date: An open door to a planet filled with beer-lovers and a conduit to meet them in our own way. One beer writer commented to me that he was struggling with the ‘having our cake and eating it too’ quality of this relationship, but that’s exactly what we have achieved. It’s come about because we lucked out and found a space where our desires were in sync with the other’s needs. We wanted what they wanted.

Things that are born grow, and mature and become. That process of becoming is endless and all of craft rolled together is itself a thing becoming. It is not one thing, rather whatever you see of it today represents only one point on a curve. Breweries that were born decades ago are at one locus on that curve, ones that were born a few months ago are at a different point on that curve, but all are becoming, endlessly.

So it is for Lagunitas, and this new adventure represents no more or less of an inflection point on that curve than did moving the brewery to Petaluma in 1994, or switching our flagship from Pale Ale to IPA in 1995, or borrowing $52 million to build Chicago or promoting the talented Jeremy Marshall to full Brewmaster status in 2013.

This is not the end of anything at all at Lagunitas, except maybe it is the end of the beginning, meaning that we are now standing at the threshold of an historic opportunity to export the excitement and vibe of American-born Craft Brewing and meet beer-lovers all over the Planet Earth, our true homeland. This could one day even be seen as a crucial victory for American Craft Brewing.

By the way, in the official press release I say that we’ll be available from Mongolia to the far-flung ‘Isles of Langerhans’. Those lovely sounding islets are actually some tiny structures inside your pancreas and I stole that from the Firesign Theater. Everything comes from somewhere, and Lagunitas comes from the U.S.of A. ….available everywhere soon! Cheers, to the ongoing victory of American Craft brewing….!

108_0881
Tony Magee and longtime honcho Ron Lindenbusch at the brewery’s 10th anniversary party in 2004.

Hefe Wheaties

Untitled
Just when you think things can’t get stranger, the makers of Wheaties — the Breakfast of Champions — General Mills have announced that they’re making a new beer, Hefe Wheaties. Expecting people to do a spit take when reading that, General Mills blog anticipated skepticism in their announcement of the new beer. “Well, you read it correctly. Wheaties has partnered with Fulton, a craft brewery in Minneapolis, to create a limited-edition Hefeweizen beer named HefeWheaties.

HefeWheaties-1

Here’s how General Mills’ describes the collaboration beer on their blog.

Wheaties is not actually in the beer, but there is wheat. And that connection helped both brands try something interesting.

“We were intrigued from the get-go on this idea for many reasons, including that we’re both Minneapolis companies, and that the beer and the cereal both started from the same place in terms of raw ingredients and the same city,” says Ryan Petz, president and co-founder of Fulton.

So what about the name?

“We had been sampling a number of Hefeweizens, so we had been discussing with the Wheaties team what we liked,” says Petz. “Someone on the team said HefeWheaties, and it kind of sprung out from there.”

The Hefeweizen is a south German style of wheat beer, typically brewed with over 50 percent malted wheat, making it a natural fit for Wheaties.

The “Hefe” prefix means, “with yeast.” This German-style beer often has a cloudy appearance because of the high wheat content and has a little bit of hop bitterness.

Typically served in a traditional Weizen glass, HefeWheaties will be the first beer of this style brewed by Fulton. It’s brewed with water, malted wheat, malted barley, hops from Germany, the U.S. and Australia, and a yeast strain specifically developed for fermenting American-style wheat beers.

“This was a true partnership between Wheaties and Fulton,” says David Oehler, marketing manager, Wheaties. “Both teams were passionate about this project and got to work quickly. We enjoyed the chance to collaborate with Fulton throughout the entire process from idea generation to can design.”

The idea for HefeWheaties came up earlier this summer, thanks to some connections between Fulton’s team and employees at General Mills.

Tony Libera, who manages the social media accounts for Wheaties, chatted about the possibility of a beer partnership for the brand with a friend who was a sales representative for Fulton, and the plans were put in motion from there.

The Fulton team also has other close ties to General Mills. Petz worked for us for a few years after business school, as did Fulton’s director of operations. And the wife of another Fulton founder currently works at General Mills.

So where can you find HefeWheaties?

For a limited time, beginning August 26, it will be available in the Twin Cities market in a 16oz. tallboy can. 4-packs will be sold at limited retailers in the area, while quantities last. HefeWheaties will not be available for shipment or purchase outside of Minnesota.

Also, the Fulton taproom in Minneapolis will host several events featuring HefeWheaties, with the first being held on August 26.

“We’ll see how people react to it,” says Petz. “If it’s something everybody loves, we’ll obviously consider doing it again in a bigger and more widely distributed way in the future.”

Hmm. Breakfast beer, anybody?

hefewheaties

SABMiller Acquires Meantime Brewing

meantime sabmiller
Global beer company SAB Miller has announced the acquisition of London’s Meantime Brewing in effort to enter the UK craft market.

MT00194_LOGO_CMYK_re-draw_2

From the press release:

Meantime is a pioneer in British modern craft beer, giving SABMiller an entry point into the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market and complementing its imported super-premium lagers such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell.

SABMiller plans to grow sales of Meantime’s beers nationally and explore export opportunities in its European markets under the continued leadership of Nick Miller, Meantime CEO.

Meantime was established by Brew Master, Alastair Hook, in 1999 with a brewery in Greenwich, London. The business has since created a successful range of British and international beer styles.

Sue Clark, Managing Director, SABMiller Europe, said: “Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement in the UK and brews an outstanding range of beers across a variety of styles. At SABMiller we love local variety, and carefully nurture our 200 local and heritage beers. Meantime, born in a city with a rich beer heritage, will be a special new addition to the SABMiller family.

“Nick Miller, Alastair Hook and their team have built a strong sense of pride and identity within Meantime, which has an excellent reputation for brewing consistently high quality beers and for industry-leading innovation. This expertise will boost our strategy to develop beers that appeal to more people, including women, and which can be attractive alternatives to wine and spirits.”

Nick Miller, CEO, Meantime, said: “I can say from personal experience, that SABMiller is a great company to be joining forces with. They see the opportunity, and believe in the longevity, of modern craft beer in the UK.

“SABMiller shares our passion for putting great beer first, and making, selling and marketing it responsibly to beer aficionados worldwide. The team at SABMiller have stressed how important our culture is to our success to date, and have a strong track record in retaining the special identities and heritage of the local businesses they’ve bought in the past.

“We are all excited about the opportunity to continue growing Meantime. We are also thrilled and flattered that SABMiller has given us a remit to innovate. This is a massive compliment and acknowledges our position as pioneers in modern craft beer.”

Volumes of beer sales at Meantime grew by 58% in 2014, outpacing the UK beer market’s 1% growth during the same period and making it one of the top-performing modern craft breweries in the UK.

Among Meantime’s award-winning lagers and ales are its leading brand London Pale Ale, London Lager, Yakima Red, Pilsner, India Pale Ale and London Porter. London Pale Ale and London Lager together account for around 70% of total volumes. Following the transaction, Meantime will open a pilot brewery which will become a centre for SABMiller’s European innovation and new product development.

The acquisition includes Meantime’s retail sites, including the Tasting Rooms and the brewery shop in Greenwich, the Greenwich Union pub, pop-up Beerbox pub, and the Brewery Fresh tank beer concept, which is now in 26 pubs across London, complementing SABMiller’s Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised tank beer in a further four London pubs.

The deal is expected to close in June of this year, and the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The BBC and the Guardian also have stories on the deal.

P1150761
Meantime brewmaster Alastair Hook, with Greg Koch from Stone Brewing, at a British Guild of Beer Writers event during the Great British Beer Festival in 2009.

Anchor To Release Liberty Ale In Cans

Anchor-Liberty-Ale
Anchor Brewery announced today that they will be releasing Liberty Ale in 12 oz. cans, at least for a limited time. The cans are “a commemorative offering celebrating the 40th anniversary of the historic beer that started a revolution.” From the press release:

“I remember brewing the first batch of Liberty Ale with Fritz Maytag 40 years ago. We were both young and eager beer lovers and knew we wanted to create a beer unlike anything else at that time,” said Anchor Brewing Brewmaster Mark Carpenter. “We had come across a new hop variety called Cascade that had a distinct piney bitterness that we used in the brew. Through Fritz’s interest in history and travel he’d learned of a process European brewers used called dry-hopping; adding dry hops to beer fermenting in the cellar to boost its hoppy aroma. So we dry-hopped the ale with whole-cone Cascade hops, as well. During an era when light lagers were prevalent, Liberty Ale was a very hoppy ale for most people. Their palates were shocked and delighted by such a unique beer.”

The beer was originally sold to the public beginning in 1975, when the country was seized by bicentennial fever. Liberty Ale commemorated the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride. Considered the first American IPA brewed after prohibition,” it was also “the first modern dry-hopped ale in the US and was the beer that popularized the now-iconic Cascade hop.” Beginning this month, Liberty Ale 6-pack cans, as well as bottles and kegs, will be available throughout the U.S.

Anchor-libery-cans

Norway’s E.C. Dahls Joins Brooklyn Brewery Family

brooklyn
The Brooklyn Brewery announced today that E.C. Dahls Joins the Brooklyn Brewery Family. E.C. Dahls Brewery was originally founded in 1856 (there’s more history at Wikipedia) and today is owned by the Carlsberg Group. Here’s the press release from the Brooklyn Brewery:

Welcome to the Continuing International Adventures of Brooklyn Brewery. In our last episode, just over a year ago, we teamed up with our friends and importers at Carlsberg to open Nya Carnegiebryggeriet (NCB) in Stockholm, Sweden. NCB is our first sister brewery and its launch was the first time any American craft brewery ever entered into such a venture abroad. Today we’re proud to announce that we’re getting the gang back together once again to welcome E.C. Dahls Brewery in Trondheim, Norway into the Brooklyn Brewery family.

dahls-brewery

We’re excited to be part of a new era in brewing at E.C. Dahls. Founded in 1856, Dahls has been a treasured presence in Trondheim for generations, and its traditional pilsner is a household name there. We’re dedicating ourselves to preserving this storied history while infusing the new venture with the spirit of brewing creativity and innovation that have become hallmarks of Brooklyn Brewery around the world. The new E.C. Dahls will blend American and Norwegian culinary cultures to create new beers that we’ll enjoy brewing and we believe Norwegian beer fans will enjoy drinking.

This is far from our first journey to Trondheim, of course. Brewmaster Garrett Oliver has regularly gone out of his way to visit during his many travels. Between the streetscapes of the seaside city, the thriving Scandinavian food scene that Garrett has followed for more than a decade, and the wonderful local appreciation of Brooklyn beer, it was always pretty easy to be enthralled with Trondheim. A couple years ago, Garrett hosted a beer dinner with local restaurateur Roar Hildonen, and the two quickly bonded over Roar’s great food and stellar Cognac collection. Roar became a fast friend and will now join us in leading the kitchen of the planned E.C. Dahl’s Tasting Room.

“The new E.C. Dahls will celebrate the great tradition of Dahls and bring the brewery and its portfolio into the thriving world of craft beer,” said Garrett. “Norway already has a great beer scene, and we’re really excited to become an even more active part of it.” As in Stockholm at NCB, there will be no Brooklyn brewed in Norway but visitors will be able to have some Brooklyn in the Tasting Room.

The Carlsberg Group also released their own press release, where they characterize the deal as a “collaboration.”

With the aim of creating the premier beer experience in Norway, the collaboration will see a new brewery with pub, restaurant, conference facilities and visitor center established at the existing Ringnes E.C. Dahls brewery site in Trondheim, Norway. The brewery will produce both popular local Dahls beer, as well as new craft beers that take inspiration from both Norwegian and US craft brewing traditions.

The brewery will welcome beer and food enthusiasts from around the world and become a laboratory for new ideas and experimentation. E.C. Dahls will have a top-class restaurant operated by local restaurateur Roar Hildonen.

“This is great news for the E.C. Dahls brewery, and great news for beer lovers in Norway and beyond”, says Jørn Tolstrup Rohde, Senior Vice President for Western Europe at Carlsberg Group. “Carlsberg’s collaboration with Brooklyn continues to explore new possibilities in craft brewing. Carlsberg started its life as a small brewery in Copenhagen back in 1847, and thanks to the resurgence of craft brewing in recent times, more and more people are getting interested in the world of beer. We think that’s very positive.”

Another interesting international development as American beer spreads its reach globally.

dahls

Firestone Walker To Introduce Cans

firestone-walker-long
Firestone Walker Brewing announced today that they will be offering three more of their beers in cans shortly. According to the press release, “Union Jack (IPA), Easy Jack (session IPA) and Pivo (hoppy pilsner) [are] all being introduced in six packs starting in mid February.”
FW_Pivo_Can
From the press release:

“We could have rushed into canning a few years ago, but we wanted the timing to be right,” said brewery co-proprietor David Walker. “The market for canned craft beer is now hitting its stride, and canning technology has come a long way in a short period. Also, cans are a perfect fit for life here on the Central Coast. All of these factors converged to finally reach a tipping point for us.”

The brewery’s new canning line was made by leading beer packaging company KHS based in Dortmund, Germany.

“It was the best—and most expensive—solution,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “You can make the best beer in the world, but if you run it through a substandard packaging line, you end up with a beer-wrecking machine. With this KHS line, there are no worries about beer integrity.”

The canning line was first fired up last year to produce cans for the brewery’s 805 brand. The cans are dry-rinsed with ionized air and purged with CO2, then filled. The cans next run through a bubble breaker to remove any air bubbles before being surface purged with CO2 to eliminate oxygen from the head space. They are then seamed with a Swiss-made Ferrum seamer and inverted for a short period to detect any leaks as they exit the seamer. After a final rinse, cardboard carriers are auto-assembled around the cans. At full speed, the canning line produces 400 cans (12-ounce) per minute.

“I think there are advantages to both cans and bottles,” Brynildson said. “Cans do a great job of blocking UV light and maintaining a great seal, but on top of that they’re just fun. They’re light and they carry anywhere. I get goosebumps just thinking about having these beers in cans.”

FW_Cans_Trio

Anheuser-Busch InBev To Buy Elysian

ABI elysian
Anheuser-Busch InBev and Elysian Brewing of Seattle, Washington announced today that they had reached agreement for ABI to buy the small Elysian brewpub chain.

From the press release:

“For two decades, we’ve welcomed guests into our brewpubs and served them creative and impeccably crafted beers,” said Joe Bisacca, Elysian ‎CEO and co-founder, who will continue with Elysian along with his partners, Dick Cantwell and David Buhler. “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.”

Dick Cantwell, Elysian co-founder and Head Brewer 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 sold more than 50,000 barrels of beer in 2014, with Immortal IPA accounting for more than a quarter of the company’s total volume.

“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.

Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Elysian is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Not sure what to make of the news yet, all I know is what’s in the press release. So far, there’s been no statement from anyone at Elysian, though I suspect we’ll learn more throughout the day.

Elysian