Pittsburgh based Rivertowne Brewing has filed for bankruptcy protection according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
In the filings, the brewery owes $271,000 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, $103,000 to S&T Bank, plus other debts including rent, utilities, and more. In total, the brewery owes $637,372.58 to various companies.
Rivertowne Brewing was founded in 2002 and has since grown to include five locations around the Pittsburgh area.
According to the brewery, sales of their newest beers are strong, the employees will continue to be paid and the business will continue as normal as a new financial plan is created.
The brewery’s year-round beers include Hali Kahiki (Pineapple fruit beer), Grateful White (witbier), Jump! IPA, and Float Trip IPA.
Terrapin Beer Company’s Frank Skorzewski has announced his retirement as of August 31st of this year. A longtime employee of the brewery Dustin Watts will assume the presidential role upon Skorzewski’s retirement on September 1st.
Frank has held the president seat at Terrapin for the past two years. For that duration, he’s been commuting from his home in South Carolina, well as focusing on smart company growth, and the brewery’s transition into the Tenth & Blake portfolio. Watts, along with co-founder and brewmaster Brian “Spike” Buckowski will lead the brewery into 2019 and beyond.
We’ll miss Frank, but we won’t miss a beat because Dustin will succeed him as president. As Terrapin’s vice president of marketing and sales since January 2006, Dustin has been one of the most prominent faces of the brewery with distributors, retailers and beer drinkers. He joined the brewery in late 2003 and has been a driving force in building the brand, growing the business and developing the team and culture that have been so critical in making Terrapin one of the most successful craft brands across the Southeast and beyond. If you’ve gotten to know Dustin, you know he lives and breathes Terrapin! – Pete Marino, President of Tenth & Blake
Terrapin was founded in Athens, Georgia in 2002. In 2017, the brewery opened the Terrapin Brewlab, a 5 barrel brewhouse in Suntrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.
In 2018, the brewery is up 25% year-to-date through the end of March and is currently expanding distribution into both Michigan and Wisconsin.
Above: Dustin Watts & his wife Terri in Patagonia – El Chalten, Argentina.
Firestone Walker has added Minnesota distribution this month. The brewery has signed a distribution deal with Artisan Beer Company.
Matt Brynildson, the brewmaster for the Paso Robles, California based brewery hails from Minnesota, making this launch extra special.
“It’s hard to describe how great it feels to finally be able to send our beers into my home State of Minnesota! For the first time since becoming the brewmaster at Firestone Walker 17 years ago, the beers that I helped to create will be available in my family’s restaurant in Litchfield. The long wait is finally over and I can’t wait to get back and have a pint of our beer with my dad.” – Matt Brynildson
Launch beers include Firestone Lager, Nitro Merlin Milk Stout, Pivo Pils, Union Jack, and the latest in the Luponic Distortion Series.
Firestone Walker was founded in 1996. With the addition of Minnesota, the brewery’s lineup can be found in 33 states.
Highland Brewing Company is closing their doors this week. For four days. When they open again on February 23rd, Highland will look a little different.
For multiple decades now, Highland Brewing has sported a kilted Scotsman holding a pint, with the tagline “just a wee bit different”. This week sadly, the Scotsman is retiring.
Leah Wong Ashburn, the president of Highland Brewing and daughter of founder Oskar Wong knew a little while ago that Asheville, North Carolina’s first craft brewery needed a branding change. “Over two decades, we led with beer, and in recent years, we developed our beer portfolio significantly with fresh new styles and our innovative spirit is firing,” Ashburn says. “I love that we are now aligning the message.”
Highland spent most of 2017 collaborating with Austin, Texas-based Helms Workshop on the refresh. The entire beer lineup will still be labeled under the Highland name, but will now depict the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the brewery calls home. The pioneer compass you see is a reminder that Highland was Asheville’s first craft beer.
” We believe in authenticity…You act the same way when no one else is looking. You deliver the same level of quality every time that only you could notice. You are authentic when your actions align with your words. And when our brand aligns with our beer. This refreshed brand is who we are.”
Highland will host a launch celebration in their taproom on February 23rd. Look for the refreshed look on all Highland bottles, cans, and tap handles hitting shelves in the near future.
Texas based Spoetzl Brewery will debut their first ever Super Bowl commercial on February 4th.
The featured called ‘This is Shiner Country’ is not only a first for the Shiner brand, but a first for a craft brewery on this expensive marketing stage. Super Bowl ad spots don’t come cheap, typically costing millions of dollars per second of airtime. Spoetzl disclosed this spot came with a $1.2 million dollar price tag.
‘This is Shiner Country’ is a 30 second spot “reinforces its stake as the iconic Texas craft beer loved by longtime residents while giving a warm welcome to new faces, with a country music twist,” according to the brewery.
Following the debut, the ad will continue to run throughout Texas on local broadcasts for NFL, NBA and MLB.
Spoetzl Brewery was founded in 1909 in Shiner, Texas. Their parent company, Gambrinus, ranked 5th in beer sales volume nationally according to the Brewer’s Association in 2016.
Shiner will debut their first Super Bowl commercial on Sunday
Popular beer rating app Untappd has released the top 10 beers consumers checked into in 2017. One style continues to dominate the list.
Despite light lager dominating overall sales in the United States (we’re looking at you Bud Light), topping Untappd’s list capturing 193,988 check-in’s is a session India pale ale – Founders All Day IPA. The Grand Rapids, Michigan based brewery debuted the hoppy session beer in 2011, and has since added 15-packs of cans, as well as 19.2oz single cans.
The state of Michigan claims second place as well with Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. This American IPA classic had a big 2017, unseating Russian River’s Pliny the Elder as the nation’s best commercial beer according to the American Homebrewer’s Association member’s poll. Pliny has held that honor for the previous 8 years.
The third spot is occupied by America’s oldest brewery – Yuengling. Their Traditional Lager was checked in 176,391 times in 2017. Judging by the shade (and terrible spelling attempts) thrown at Yuengling, it would seem that some folks have come to the conclusion that the brewery shouldn’t be considered craft beer, “because lager sucks”. Here’s the twist for those naysayers – Yuengling holds the number one spot as the largest craft brewery. Not only are they still family owned and operated (since 1829), but their annual production is less than the Brewer’s Association defined cut off of 6 million barrels.
The 4th largest craft brewery New Belgium holds the 4th and 5th check-in spots with Voodoo Ranger and Fat Tire respectively. Voodoo Ranger has spun off into a series of variants over the past year. (Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze just hit shelves this month.) The amber ale Fat Tire is not only a staple many craft beer fans, but a gateway into craft for thousands.
Interestingly, Scottish craft brewer Brewdog and their #1 selling Punk IPA made the top 10 as the only foreign brewery to crack the list. That is – if you still count them as foreign. Brewdog opened the doors to their first production facility in the United States in 2017, located in Ohio.
Founders KBS, the brewery’s famous and highly sought after barrel-aged imperial stout boasts 120,249 check-ins and is the only dark beer on the list.
Dogfish Head (#14 in sales volume), Stone Brewing (#9 in sales) and Cigar City all round out the top 10.
It comes as no surprise that the India pale ale continues to dominate the craft side of the beer industry, claiming 7 out of 10 of top 10 check-ins last year. That leaves just one amber ale, one amber lager, and a barrel-aged stout in the group.
The obvious conclusion? America still loves their hops, and we doubt that will ever change.
Popular beer check-in and rating app Untappd has suspended check-ins and comments following social media failure by the Tacoma, Washington based brewery.
You’ve got to have some thick skin to be a brewer. Especially in a social media-driven world. Everyone’s opinions regardless of how expert or novice, can be thrown out at near the speed of light, thanks to the magic of the internet and smartphones.
Of the hundreds of brewers we’ve interviewed here at Beer Street Journal, most take the critiques with a grain of salt. Some folks can be really hurtful, and most are smart enough to let it go. The owner and head brewer of Dystopian State Brewing Company did the opposite. Dare we say – completely off the rails.
A brewery visitor by the name of Gus Erikson was not a satisfied drinker of Dystopian State. He voiced his opinion on Facebook: “Only place I have spit beer back into a glass.“
This is where the story would have ended if owner and head brewer Shane McElwrath and co-owner Lana Adzhigirey had just let that comment go and moved on with brewery operations.
Co-owner Lana Adzhigiery didn’t take to kindly to his thoughts on their beer and voiced them immediately (She called him a fucktard in one of the exchanges). McElwrath privately messaged Erikson a string of expletive-laden comments that of course, didn’t stay private very long. Erikson shared the exchange and the social media backlash has been strong.
Members of the Untappd community started logging .25 stars on Dystopian State beers and destroying the brewery in the comments. Untappd has disabled check-ins and comments as of 1 pm this afternoon.
Additionally, the brewery’s Facebook rating was 4.8 stars and as the comment string and fall out started to build, that rating had dropped to 2.1. McElwrath has been suspended from his duties at Dystopian State. The brewery posted this on Monday evening stating they have been in contact with Gus Erikson over the messages:
“We really screwed up. We lashed out to one of our customers who made a negative comment about our beer on a beer group on social media. We made it personal. And have sent him messages in very poor taste. This is unacceptable and it was wrong.
“This is unprofessional and we take full responsibility. Gus Erickson – thank you for giving us a chance and please accept our deepest apology for sending you hateful messages.
We would also like to reassure you that we accept people from all walks of life, any and all sexual orientation, color, gender, opinion.”
Safe to say, this is the very definition of a brewery’s public relations nightmare.
Ed. Note: An email to Dystopian State Brewing Company was not immediately returned.