Top Stories of the Year (So Far)

It’s mid-year, and much has happened in the specialty beer segment over the course of six months. Below is a review of the top stories that appeared on the pages of BEERWeek since the first of the year.


MALT SUPPLY PROBLEMS WORRY BREWERS: Production and storage problems have brewers and malt makers worried about their barley supplies. Last year’s nationwide U.S. barley crop was the smallest since 1937.

SEA DOG BREWING SELLS: Alan Pugsley and Fred Forsley, owners of Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland, ME, bought the bankrupt Sea Dog Brewing Co. for $1.2 million.

OASIS BREWERY CLOSES: Boulder, Colorado’s Oasis Brewery closed after an eleven-year run. The area’s economy and rising costs made the brewpub too pricey to keep.

CRAFT BEER – IN THE CAN?: An affordable canning line for small batch packaging becomes available. Two Colorado breweries begin selling craft beer in a can.

SABMILLER ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF TUMWATER BREWERY: Miller Brewing Co. announces it is shutting down its 106-year-old Tumwater brewery, effective July 1. The closure of the Tumwater plant is yet another indication of over-capacity in the industry. It will effectively eliminate about 6 million barrels of available production capacity.

CRAFT BREWERS GUILD IN BOSTON IS SOLD: The Brooklyn Brewery sells the Boston branch of the Craft Brewers Guild, the specialty beer distributor it formed a decade ago.

BOWLIN OUT AS CEO OF MILLER: John Bowlin, president and CEO of the Miller Brewing Company resigned, and Norman Adami, chairman and managing director of The South African Breweries Ltd (Beer South Africa), takes his place.


BREWERY OMMEGANG SOLD: Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, principal owners of the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, sell their share to their minority partner, Duvel Moortgat in Breendonk, Belgium (brewer of the strong golden ale Duvel). As part of the deal, Feinberg and Littlefield also ceded their distribution rights to Duvel along the Eastern Seaboard.

MORE MALTERNATIVES FROM ANHEUSER-BUSCH: Anheuser-Busch announces it is preparing to introduce a new extension to its year-old Bacardi Silver brand, an orange-flavored malt beverage, suggesting the A/B still has faith in the category.


US AGENCY ALLOWS HEALTH CLAIMS ON BEER AND WINE, WITH CAVEATS: The U.S. government says wine and beer makers may make health claims for their products, but only under limited circumstances and accompanied by warnings about health risks as well.

ST. LOUIS BREWERY AND TAPROOM TO OPEN NEW PRODUCTION PLANT: Tom Schlafly, president and founder of the St. Louis Brewery and Taproom, opens his new brewery on April 7, the 70th anniversary of Prohibition.

BAA & AOB REPORT DOMESTIC SPECIALTIES UP IN 2002: The domestic craft beer segment grew 3.4% in 2002 according to statistics released by the Association of Brewers. This increase is up from the previous year’s growth of 1.2%. In separate figures released by the Brewers Association of America, the average growth rate of small brewers in the US grew at 11.0%, up from 9.7% last year.

AMERICAN SMALL BREWERS CELEBRATE THE ANNIVERSARY OF REPEAL OF PROHIBITION: On April 7th, 2003, American small breweries across the country held New Beer’s Eve events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.


7-ELEVEN TO SELL PRIVATE-LABEL IMPORTED BEER: The 7-Eleven convenience store chain, says it plans to sell its own private label of imported beer, Santiago, in a strategy designed to undercut prices charged by major import brands.

FIRST QUARTER SALES SLUGGISH – PROJECTIONS FOR QUARTER 2 MIXED: The first quarter of the year was a challenging one for all segments of the beer industry. Many craft breweries reported sales in January through March as flat or down.

WIDMER TO CONTRACT EAST COAST PRODUCTION AT REDHOOK: Widmer Hefeweizen destined for Eastern states will be brewed under license at Redhook brewery in Portsmouth, N.H.


FULL SAIL TO BREW WEINHARD’S: Production of some Henry Weinhard beers will return to Oregon this summer, when Full Sail Brewing begins production of Henry’s Hefeweizen, Northwest Blonde Lager and Amber Light at its Hood River brewery.

ATTENDANCE UP AT CRAFT BREWERS CONFERENCE: The 20th annual Craft Brewers Conference, hosted by the association of Brewers is held in New Orleans, with attendance up slightly from the previous year.


ANHEUSER-BUSCH TO LAUNCH HIGH-END PILSNER: A/B announces the release of Anheuser World Select, priced comparable to European imports and packaged in a green bottle.

HICKENLOOPER ELECTED MAYOR OF DENVER: John Hickenlooper, long-time industry proponent and founder of Wynkoop Brewing Company was elected mayor of Denver on a landslide victory margin of 64% of the vote.

RAM BREWPUB SHUTS IN SPOKANE, WASHINGTON: Spokane’s Ram Restaurant & Brewery closed, along with Havana’s, the Ram’s upstairs dance club.