What a year it was. A changing industry in many ways. Here are the Top Stories of 2018.
New Hampshire’s Smuttynose Brewing Company seeks a buyer. Founded in 1994, the company is a longtime well-known player in the craft brewing industry. An early year indicator of more closings and sales to come.
Charlie Papazian Announces Departure from BA
The Brewers Association announced that founder and past president Charlie Papazian will depart the Brewers Association on January 23, 2019, marking his 70th birthday and 40 years with the association. Notice there is no mention of “retirement.” Expect to see more of Charlie in 2019.
Stone Brewing Files Suit Against MillerCoors
Stone Brewing filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors, alleging that the Keystone line of beers infringed on the San Diego craft brewery’s “Stone” trademark. The case is still pending.
Green Flash Brewing Forecloses and Sells
In a flash of events, Green Flash Brewing was foreclosed on by their largest lender Comerica which in turn has sold the assets of the company to an investor group under the name WC IPA LLC.
Industry Descends on Nashville with Hope & Fear
Over 14,000 industry members of all stripes, colors and sizes descended on Nashville for the Craft Brewers Conference. The mood was mixed between good-vibe-enthusiasm and an aura of pending doom.
Constellation Buys Four Corners
We made it past the middle of the year before another global company bought a craft brewer. Constellation Brands acquired its third craft brewery, Four Corners Brewing. The Texas brewery joins Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego and Funky Buddha Brewery as part of the Constellation portfolio.
CANarchy Adds Another
After a relatively quiet half of the year in craft brewery ownership changes, a second shoe dropped in the span of one week. Three Weavers Brewing of Inglewood, CA announced that they entered into a strategic partnership with CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, the self-described “disruptive collective of like-minded brewers.”
BA Reports 5% Craft Growth in Mid-Year Report
Production volume for the craft segment was up 5% during the first half of 2018 according to the Brewers Association mid-year report. This shows stabilization following a 5% growth for full-year 2017.
BA Rolls Out New Independence Campaign
The Brewers Association (BA) launched a new national awareness campaign called “That’s Independence You’re Tasting” In an ongoing effort to “distinguish and promote America’s small and independent craft brewers,” according to a BA press release.
Boston Beer Hits a Home Run in Earnings Report
Boston Beer Company shows a taste of the future by rebounding back into growth mode – primarily on the horsepower of non-beer, innovative alcohol brands.
Major Equipment Manufacturer DME Goes Under
Canadian brewery equipment manufacturer Diversified Metal Engineering (DME) went into receivership, stranding many brewers who had paid deposits on brewing equipment still under production.
More Industry Layoffs as Deschutes Cuts Jobs
Bend, Oregon-based craft brewer Deschutes Brewing Company laid off 10% of its workforce. The 400,000 barrels the company brewed on 2017 make it the 10th largest craft brewer in the U.S. The layoff come after the company announced it was holding back on building a new brewing facility in
TTB Fines Wholesaler for Pay-to-Play
Elgin Beverage, an Illinois wholesaler of Constellation Brands and other beverages was fined by the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) for pay-to-play practices in the marketplace. The TTB accused Elgin of making improper payments to retail accounts seeking preferred placement of its products. The wholesaler negotiated a fine of $325,000.
BA Changes ‘Craft Brewer’ Definition
The Brewers Association announced in a letter to their membership that the BA board of directors had completed a “review and update” process of the association’s definition of “craft brewer.” The “traditional” tier of the definition was removed.
Cargill to Exit Malt Biz
Minnesota-based Cargill, a well-known name in the brewing industry for almost 40 years is getting out of the malt business, selling the unit to Boortmalt, a European maltster.