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We’ll admit it. realbeer.com has been stuck in the aughts since . . . the aughts.

It’s time for change, and you will see that in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the most obvious change will be that we are closing the discussion board. We fondly remember the evening of Oct. 9, 2006 when 3,062 visitors were congregated here. It saddens us that we hear echoes now when we stroll through empty forums. That and practical considerations are why we decided to shut the doors.

We hope when we are done remodeling you’ll find new ones you want to open. For now if you want to get to the forum you can head to http://discussions.realbeer.com/forum.php — but we’ll be taking that down in a little under a month.

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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.

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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

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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.

The entire list.

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