Diageo-owned Guinness will open the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Chicago today. The facility is housed in a 15,000 sq. ft. old railway depot and in addition to the 10-barrel brewery it will include a taproom, restaurant and bakery.
Major Brand News
News coverage of the global and large domestic brewing companies
It seems like it will never end. In a consumer boycott that has extended far beyond anyone’s expectations, sales of Bud Light continue to fall over the summer months, allowing Modelo Especial to widens its lead as the top selling beer in America. The Mexican beer now accounts for 8.4% of beer sales in off-premise stores year-to-date through Aug. 19, compared to 8.2% for Bud Light.
In another sign that large global brewers are continuing to chase after growth beverage segments outside traditional beer, Molson Coors announced that they will purchase Blue Run Spirits, makers of premium Blue Run Kentucky Bourbon. It is another step forward in the evolution of large brewing companies turning more and more into ‘beverage companies.’
AB Sells Off Eight Craft Brands to Tilray Including10-Barrel, Widmer, Redhook, Breckenridge and Shock Top
Large global brewers have been slowly selling off their acquired craft brands in recent months. That trickle is now a deluge as Anheuser-Busch announced that they will sell eight craft beer, cider, and energy drink brands to Tilray Brands Inc. The sell-off includes 10-barrel Brewing, Widmer Brothers, Redhook, Breckenridge Brewery and Blue Point Brewing along with the AB in-house craft brand Shock Top.
Anheuser-Busch said it would be laying off about 350 employees following five straight months of double-digit declines in sales of Bud Light due to the consumer boycott. The layoffs are said to be at all tiers of the company, including some corporate positions.
In a testament of confidence in the growing non-alcoholic beer category, Diageo has made a major investment to its famed St. James Gate brewery in Dublin to increase the capacity by 300% to make Guinness 0.0. The company will begin to roll-out the non-alcoholic stout on draft across Ireland this summer.
The Anheuser-Busch senior marketing executive for Bud Light who oversaw the ad campaign that led to a consumer boycott is said to have taken a leave of absence from the company.
“All publicity is good publicity,” the famous quote attributed to the 19th century circus owner, Phineas T. Barnum has been used often in the beer industry. But the recent controversy surrounding the partnership between Bud Light and transgender influencer and activist Dylan Mulvaney may call that into question.
ABInBev has made staff cuts at its acquired craft breweries as sales of its craft beer portfolio dropped by 3.2% in 2022 versus the previous year.
The company reportedly laid off an unknown number of sales and marketing employees at breweries they have acquired over the years including Blue Point Brewery, Devil’s Backbone Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Karbach Brewing Co. and Wicked Weed Brewing.
Layoffs also included centralized marketing staff at ABI’s New York office who supported craft brands.
Constellation shares dropped 10% after the company fell well short of predicted earnings for the three months to the end of November 2022, dragging down the shares of other American beer, wine and spirits producers as investors worry that alcohol beverage producers may have a hard time maintaining margins in 2023.
The NBWA’s Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) had its lowest index reading ever in the month of December 2022. The December BPI shows a reading of 30, and the “at-risk” inventory index of 51 marks a very pessimistic outlook for January 2023.
Molson Coors will exit the US portion of its CBD joint venture with Canadian cannabis grower Hexo, ending the brewers CBD beverage business in the US.
On the heels of the announcement that Keurig Dr. Pepper has invested $50 million into non-alcoholic brewer Athletic Brewing, the global brewer Asahi just announced the international launch of its alcohol-free beer, Asahi Super Dry 0.0%.
The brewer’s press release said that Asahi’s master brewers take the base recipe of Asahi Super Dry through a process of de-alcoholisation to create the finished beer at 0.0% ABV.
The beer will be available across eight markets worldwide in 2023, beginning with its launch in the UK and Ireland in January.
Craft beer prices haven’t risen as quickly as other alcohol beverages, including beer overall. But that may change as inflation persists and margins continue to decrease for smaller brewers.
A survey conducted by Sightlines analyzing data from market research company IRI comparing Q1 2021 vs Q2 2022 showed that base prices for packaged craft beer rose +3.4% while overall beer base prices increased +5.6% during that same time.
But reluctance to hike pricing may change as inflation persists and margins decrease for small brewers, who may be forced to raise prices over the coming months to protect the bottom-line.
Carlsberg Group has revealed the trial of a new non-glass “bottle,” made from wood fiber and a plant-based lining.
The bottle is 100% bio-based apart from the cap, which is currently needed to ensure the quality of the product, and together the bottle and cap are fully recyclable. The company is also exploring alternative fiber-based bottle caps.
The new trail bottle is set to be sampled to 8,000 consumers across eight pilot markets in Western Europe.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent edition, beer prices have increased 4.5 percent over the past 12 months to May.
“That’s way faster than it’s been [rising] over the last decade, which has been like one and a half percent,” Michael Uhrich, the founder and chief economist at Seventh Point Analytic Consulting, and the former chief economist of the Beer Institute told VinePair.
Predictions are that beer prices will continue to increase due to a number of factors. The biggest question facing craft brewers is how will the price hikes impact the craft consumer. And will the global brewers be able (and willing) to artificially keep price down on their own faux craft brands, at the expense of independent craft brewers.
Big news in the brewing industry as it was announced last night that Sapporo USA will acquire Stone Brewing of San Diego, Calif.
Stone Distribution Co. which distributes many craft brands throughout Southern California will not be part of the deal and will remain an intendent company.
Sapporo is the largest selling Asian beer in the U.S. and Stone is the 18th largest brewing company in the country with annual production of 326,281 barrels in 2021. It is the second major acquisition of a U.S. craft brewery for Sapporo with the purchase of Anchor Brewing in 2017.
The new owner of Cincinnati Beverage Co., brewer of heritage brands such as Christian Moerlein, Hudepohl, Burger and Little Kings, plans a $30 million renovation of three historic brewery buildings in Cincinnati, Ohio.
John Richardson acquired Cincinnati Beverage Co. last month.
Cincinnati Beverage discontinued in-house brewing of its brands in late 2020 and began contract brewing with other brewers. It is believed that the new owner may bring at least some of the brewing back in-house once the renovation projects are complete.
The Beer Institute, the trade association representing mostly the larger global brewers and beer importers, today announced the departure of President & CEO Jim McGreevy. He will leave the organization in early May. An announcement of his future is forthcoming.
“I am honored to have been part of a great team that advocates for the interests of all brewers and beer importers. It has been a privilege to represent this iconic industry, its wonderful brands and the people in beer who bring a passion to their work every day,” said McGreevy.
McGreevy joined the Beer Institute in 2014.
Late week a jury awarded Stone Brewing $56 million in damages against MolsonCoors in conclusion of a four-year trademark infringement lawsuit. Although it was most likely the largest settlement for trademark infringement ever in the beer industry, it may not solve Stone Brewing’s financial problems,
In courthouse testimony during the trial, Stone CEO Maria Stipp revealed that the San Diego-based brewery owes investment firm VMG/Hillhouse $434 million. According to an article in Good Beer Hunting Sightlines, Kate Bernot reported that VMG invested $89.5 million in Stone in 2016 to support “undisclosed projects and growth, and it’s unclear how the overall number continued to climb” to the current amount. The investment came during a period of profuse expansion for Stone that was noteworthy even during the rapid growth of the craft brewing industry across the country at the time.
Stone was scheduled to repay the $434 million by June 2023, but Stipp says the firm has given Stone an unspecified amount of additional time to come up with the cash. As a result of this burden, Stipp testified, Stone had considered selling its company according to testimony reported by Court House News.