During a week in which it closed two brewing facilities, Green Flash brewery has been purchased by a new investor group. The company’s principal lender foreclosed on the San Diego brewery, then sold it to a group of investors called WC IPA LLC.
The announcement of the sale comes just a week after Green Flash closed its Virginia Beach brewery 16 months after opening the East Coast operation. Only a few days later it closed it Poway barrel-aging facility, Cellar 3.
Former Green Flash Brewing Company CEO Mike Hinkley will continue to be part of the leadership team of the new company.
“After a general slowdown in the craft beer industry, coupled with intense competition and a slowdown of our business, we could not service the debt that we took on to build the Virginia Beach brewery, and in early 2018, the Company defaulted on its loans with Comerica Bank,” Hinkley wrote in a note to Green Flash shareholders. “While we took substantial efforts to recapitalize the Company over the past several months, both before and after the bank default, we were ultimately unable to close a transaction.”
A press release stated the Green Flash and Alpine breweries will continue to operate in San Diego and Alpine, respectively. But Green Flash Brewing Company and Alpine Beer, which Green Flash purchased in 2014, will be dissolved.
The number of operating breweries in the United States grew 16% in 2017 and smaller breweries generally fared better than large ones. Total beer sales declined 1% for the year, while craft (as defined by the Brewers Association) beer sales grew 5%. Microbreweries, meaning ones that made 15,000 barrels or less, and brewpubs deliver 76% of craft growth.
“Growth for the craft brewing industry is adapting to the new realities of a mature market landscape,” Brewers Association economist Bart Watson said in a press release announcing the 2017 statistics. “Beer lovers are trending toward supporting their local small and independent community craft breweries. At the same time, as distribution channels experience increased competition and challenges, craft brewer performance was more mixed than in recent years, with those relying on the broadest distribution facing the most pressure.”
Small and independent breweries account for 98% of the breweries in operation. They exemplify what has become known as “the long tail.” In fact, the smallest 75% of breweries make less than 1% of the beer.
“Beer lovers want to support businesses that align with their values and are having a positive impact on their local communities and our larger society,” added Watson. “That’s what small and independent craft brewers are all about. The ability to seek beers from small and independent producers matters.”
Craft breweries produced 25.4 million barrels in 2017 and the value of retail sales grew 8% to and estimated $26.0 billion, representing 23.4% market share.
Breweries continue to open at a faster rate than the market is growing, with 997 new operatins in 2017. About 2.6%, or 165, of breweries closed, but Watson warned that number may increase along with growing competition. “It’s hard to know what a long term rate may be,” he said in a conference call
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has awarded grants totaling $704,985 to 13 projects to increase the production of Pennsylvania-made malt and brewed beverages and enhance the Pennsylvania beer industry through promotion, marketing, and research-based programs and projects.
“Brewing beer is an important industry to Pennsylvania’s economy that is growing,” Governor Tom Wolf said in a press release announcing the awards. “These grants build on the bipartisan efforts to modernize our beer laws and support the industry to create job opportunities from the farm to the brewery, pub and grocery store.”
The projects include:
– $127,500 for “Pennsylvania Pursue Your Hoppiness,” which will identify “beer trails” where tourists can visit multiple regional microbreweries, and to develop a statewide “brand identity” for the state’s breweries.
– $136,154 to Penn State for two projects, one studying the effect of fungicides on hops and the other improving hops-drying techniques to preserve their aromatic compounds.
– $10,000 for Hops on Lots Pittsburgh, which turns vacant properties into hops farms to supply local breweries.
– $7,147 to the Montgomery County Planning Commission for two “matchmaking events” in 2018 to connect interested farmers with local brewers in order to strengthen Montgomery County’s role in the local brewing economy.
Fuller Smith & Turner — the oldest brewery in London and operator of an international brand — has purchased Dark Star Brewing in Sussex. Terms of the sale were not revealed.
“The deal means we will continue to do what we do, but gives us huge opportunities to brew more one-off small batch beers hand-in-hand with exploring the export market and expanded bottle and can formats,” said Dark Star managing director James Cuthbertson.
This follows Fuller’s acquisition of cider makers Cornish Orchards in 2013 and George Gale & Co. in November 2005. Fuller’s managing director Simon Dodd said the acquisition was part of the same strategy.
He said the company had “been looking at similar opportunities to invest in and work with young, exciting companies that have a similar ethos and commitment to quality as Fuller’s.”
Stone Brewing has filed suit in federal court, charging brewing giant MillerCoors with trademark infringement in marketing Keystone Light beer.
MillerCoors revamped Keystone Light packaging last April, emphasizing the word “Stone” on the side of its cans. “Keystone’s new can design overtly copies and infringes the Stone trademark,” Stone stated in the lawsuit. In a social media campaign and in advertising at various websites Keystone is referred to simply as Stone. “Such mass advertising broadcasts the infringing ‘Stone’ name beyond Keystone’s immediate social media audience to the general public at large,” the suit says.
“You can end all of this right here and now by one simple move that reinforces your brand that you’ve built,” Koch said in the video. “Put the ‘Key’ back in ‘Keystone.’ Stop using Stone as a stand-alone word. It’s ours.”
As well as asking for the court to stop MillerCoors from using “Stone” in connection with the sale and distribution of the Keystone beer, Stone Brewing is seeking damages and profits from the sale of the rebranded Keystone products.
“This lawsuit is a clever publicity stunt with a multi-camera, tightly-scripted video featuring Stone’s founder Greg Koch,” Marty Maloney, MillerCoors media relations manager said in a statement. “Since Keystone’s debut in 1989, prior to the founding of Stone Brewing in 1996, our consumers have commonly used ‘Stone’ to refer to the Keystone brand and we will let the facts speak for themselves in the legal process.”
The city of Portland has abandoned an effort to take away a local brewery’s right to using an iconic logo. Old Town Brewing secured the exclusive rights to use the leaping deer logo found on the city-owned Portland, Oregon, sign in 2012.
The city hired a private trademark attorney and spent four years contesting Old Town Brewing’s exclusive rights. The Oregonian reports city officials announced Portland will no longer seek to secure the trademark for use of the logo on beer, wine and liquor products.
In exchange, the Old Town brewery will allow the city to license the image for certain local alcohol-related uses such as festivals, events and advertising for local trade organizations. Old Town Brewing will not allow use of the logo on any alcohol-related products or packaging.
The godfather of American homebrewing has an exit strategy. The Brewers Association announced that Charlie Papazian will step down Jan. 23, 2019, on this 70th birdthday.
Papazian and Charlie Matzen, both school teachers at the time, founded the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colo., in 1978. Papazian started the Great American Beer Festival four years later. And the following year, the Association of Brewers was organized to include the AHA and the Institute for Brewing and Fermentation Studies to assist the growing number of new breweries. In 2005, the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association. Papazian served as its president until handing over the title to Bob Pease in 2016.
“We are all here today because of Charlie Papazian,” Pease said in a press release. “His influence on the homebrewing and craft brewing community is immeasurable. Who could have predicted that a simple wooden spoon, ingenuity and passion would spawn a community of more than one million homebrewers and 6,000 small and independent U.S. craft breweries.”
Many the brewers who joined what has become known as the craft beer movement learned to make beer in homebrew classes Papazian taught in Colorado in the 1970s. Still more learned from reading The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, following is advice to “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”
In the BA press release, Papazian says, “I had a playful vision that there would be a homebrewer in every neighborhood and a brewery in every town. But what I did not imagine, couldn’t imagine, never considered, was the impact that craft brewing would have on our culture, economy and American life.”
He will spend his final year at the BA completing many projects, including a craft brewing history archive project. The archive will house 40 years of craft beer history in the form of more than 100,000 publications, photographs, audiotapes, films, videos, and documents — including 140 video interviews of the pioneers of American craft brewing — and will be accessible to researchers via the BA. He will also deliver the keynote address at the AHA’s 40th annual National Homebrew Conference, Hombrew Con, in Portland, Ore., in June.
The BA inveites brewers and homebrewers are invited to share their well wishes and Charlie Papazian stories on the AHA and BA Facebook pages.
Lagunitas Brewing will not reopen the Charleston, S.C., brewpub it took over in 2016 and was forced to close last year because it needed repairs. The company realized that renovating the building would cost too much to be worth it, company spokeswoman Karen Hamilton informed the The Post and Courier.
The building was constructed in 1880 as a store and warehouse for F.W. Wagener & Co. South end Brewery took it over in 1996, operating a popular brewpub. Lagunitas operated it for several months until last July, when the city ordered scaffolding put up to protect nearby pedestrians from bricks that might fall.
“That building seemed to be the perfect location because they were already a brewery,” Hamilton wrote in an email. “It takes buildings with a certain infrastructure to support the weight of a brewery as well as ceiling height, etc. So it is a unique thing. You just can’t set up shop anywhere.”
Despite the setback, the company has not given up on Charleston. “We’ve got our eyes open,” Hamilton said. “Or maybe not just another brewery but something else! We’re a fairly creative bunch so you never know.”
Smuttynose Brewing Co., founded in 1994 and the largest craft brewery in New Hampshire, will be sold at bank auction March 9 unless a buyer is found before. The company employs 68 people and generates more than $10 million in revenue a year.
The sale includes the Smuttynose brand, its facility on the historic Towle Farm in Hampton and Hayseed Restaurant located next to the brewery on its 13-acre site. The brewery is capable of producing 75,000 barrels a year, but in the last year it has been running at 50% capacity.
“The company’s financial models were based on 20 years of consistent growth but the explosion of microbreweries has led to changing dynamics in the marketplace,” Smuttynose owner Peter Egelston said in a press release. “This dramatic shift occurred just as Smuttynose committed to a major infrastructure investment with the construction of the new production facility. As the turmoil in the marketplace stabilizes, Smuttynose, a trusted brand with strong consumer loyalty, can regain its footing with a major infusion of capital.”
Egelston stressed that the company is open and will conduct business as usual.
Lead lender Provident Bank is managing the auction process. “Smuttynose Brewing Company has been a valued customer and an important part of our community. Provident Bank is committed to working with the company during these challenging financial times to produce the best outcome for everyone involved,” Provident Bank President Chuck Withee said.
Egelston, along with partner Joanne Francis, is also owner of the Portsmouth Brewery, a brewpub located in downtown Portsmouth. It is not part of the sale.
Guinness begins rolling a non-alcoholic lager in Ireland this month. Pure Brew has been developed at Open Gate, Diageo’s experimental brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin. Pure Brew will be available in 250 pubs in Dublin to start, nationwide beginning in March.
Unlike other non-alcoholic beers, Pure Brew is a fully-fermented beer. Most others are full-strength beers with the alcohol eventually removed through evaporation, a process many maintian also removes flavor. Pure Brew is the result of two years of experimentation, has been developed using a special yeast strain so that it is a fully fermented beer.
“Consumers shouldn’t have to compromise on flavour just because they want to moderate,” lead brewer John Casey told The Irish Times. “With Pure Brew we wanted to give people a taste experience comparable to regular beer.”
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