In November of 2014, Anheuser Busch purchased Oregon based 10 Barrel Brewing. Since then, the production facility has undergone an expansion, as well as adding brewpub concepts in Denver, Colorado, and this weekend – San Diego, California.
Craft beer fans in San Diego, one of America’s prominent beer cities, have been vocal about opposing 10 Barrel’s build. Breweries, fans as well as the San Diego Brewer’s Guild’s opposition is a fairly simple one. There are more than 100 homegrown craft breweries located in the city. The line between craft and big beer is becoming blurred day by day, especially when massive breweries like Anheuser Busch buy 10 Barrel Brewing. One of the direct issues, is their practice of opening up a new location and operate like a craft brewery, not mentioning their Anheuser ownership.
It is important to note that the “craft brewer” definition is not a legal term, but one outlined by the not-for-profit Brewer’s Association. (As well as a massive source of pride for those considered craft.)
Despite oppostion, the 10 Barrel Brewpub has been built in San Diego. This weekend a block party is planned to celebrate its grand opening. That won’t stop some folks from getting the last word.
A ’10 Barrel is Not Craft Beer’ banner attached to a plane will circle overhead for at least three hours this weekend during the party.
It all started with a GoFundMe page started by ‘San Diego Beer Fan’ now known as Richard Esparza, asking for $900 dollars in donations to rent the plane and fly the banner for three hours.
Not going to explain why I’m doing this. You either get it, or you don’t.
Update May 30th: The campaign has raised $4,840 dollars with one anonymous individual contributing $2,500 dollars alone. The next highest supporters gave as much as $200 a piece. Once the goal was exceeded, Esparza has posted another update:
I do have another ace up my sleeve and if the funds continue to come in, we will have another show of power.
The GoFundMe creator now planning a committee in order to direct the extra funds.
— Amanda Brandeis (@10NewsBrandeis) May 28, 2017
Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company’s first full production foray in to American wild ales happened a few years before their new Woodlands Facility. In 2015 to be precise, with the release of a Brettanomyces yeast heavy Pit & The Pendulum. That beer, brewed with fresh peach puree from South Carolina was so well received that it was made intermittently year-round. This year, a new Pit is coming – SweetWater Cherry Pit & The Pendulum.
Patiently waiting in the brewery’s new foudres is SweetWater Cherry Pit & The Pendulum, that has been sitting for over six months on a blend of Montmorency & Balaton cherries. Chris Meadows and Nick Burgoyne, brewers currently overseeing the Woodlands, started fermentation on Rainy Day Acid Trip (the unofficial name for the base) in stainless steel in July, 2016. It was transferred to oak foudres in December, where a blend of Montmorency & Balaton cherries were added to the oak.
It has been quietly maturing ever since.
A golden ale soured with lactobacillus and fermented with three brettanomyces strains, then aged for 6 months in American and French oak with 3,000 pounds of Montmorency & Balaton cherries. Freshly harvested house brettanomyces was added for bottle conditioning, ensuring evolution in the cellar.
SweetWater Cherry Pit & The Pendulum will be a 750 milliliter bottle corked & caged release. The brewery has not announced a release date.
Not long after, Beer Street Journal got wind of a “counter festival” with the ex-pats from the Invitational to rise in place. Ultimately- the brewers that were previously involved in the festival still wanted to have a funk-ing good wild and sour ale party this summer. Just not with Wicked Weed and and their new ABI friends.
Here are the details we’ve been sitting on. The new festival is called “The Funk Collective” and will take place at Birds Fly South in Greenville, South Carolina with Revelry Brewing and city based badasses, The Community Tap. Full details are found below.
All profits will still benefit the Eblen-Kimmel Charity of Asheville.
See you there.
The Funk Collective: A Gathering of Independent Breweries
July 8, 2017
Hosted by Birds Fly South Ale Project, Greenville, SC. Sponsored by Revelry Brewing Co., The Community Tap, and Birds Fly South Ale Project
25+ Breweries from around the country (list will be released on Thursday, 5/25)
All breweries invited have a dedication to the art of making funky & sour beer
Tickets on sale Friday, 5/26. Special VIP experience will be available for limited ticket holders, more info TBD
Today Placentia, California based The Bruery announced that they are partnering with Newton, Massachusetts based Castanea Partners.
The Bruery is still a relatively small operation after 9 years. A few years ago The Bruery split into two units, with the wild and sour arm of the brewery now known as Bruery Terreux. Then just this year, the brewery started releasing India pale ales as Offshoot Beer Co. According to founder Patrick Rue there are still unrealized ideas.
That being said, Rue is going the private equity route. Castanea Partners have already invested in a few notable brands like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Urban Decay cosmetics, Essentia Water, and Drybar. According to the Castanea Partners website, this is their first foray into the alcohol industry.
Going forward Patrick Rue will remain CEO and his father Mike Rue will still own a significant portion of The Bruery, Bruery Terreux, and Offshoot Beer Co.
Castanea Partners is going to assist the brewery financially and operationally, exploring new options across their 29 state footprint.
We are still an independent craft brewery.
The amount of the investment has not been disclosed, nor the new ownership split. The deal is expect to close by month’s end.
If you ever wondered how deep Anheuser-Busch InBev’s pockets are, maybe this will give you a little perspective. The world’s largest brewery is going to invest $2 billion in their U.S. market over the next three years.
To date, ABI has purchased ten craft breweries valued a millions each. They operate 12 production facilities around the U.S. that produce over 200 million barrels (or 6.2 billion gallons of beer) annually. In contrast, the largest craft brewery (in volume), D.G. Yuengling & Son, hovers at 3 million barrels annually.
ABI pays $20 million to Major League Baseball annually for licensing rights, $1 billion to the National Football League for a six year licensing deal, plus Major League Soccer and Nascar deals.
Let’s not forget the 100+ billion dollars spent on acquiring SABMiller.
The list goes on, but you get the idea. ABI has some pretty deep pockets.
America’s craft brewers are a little intimidated, and maybe a little scared of this world Anheuser-Busch is creating. That kind of money flush operation is hard to compete with. The battle for grocery store and gas station shelf space is being decisively won by ABI. Now craft’s biggest competitor is dropping $2 billion in their American beer presence over the next fews years.
Where The Money will be Spent: 2017-2020
Below is a brief breakdown of how $2 billion will be spent. Take note of a new interesting initiatives that include Elysian, new dry hopping tech, and planning for new brands and products at a few key facilities.
- $15 million will be spent on the Fairfield, California facility. Elysian Brewing will soon be producing their Space Dust IPA there.
- $200 Million will be spent on capital improvements at the brewery’s 12 largest production facilities. (Some noted below)
- $180 million is earmarked for expanding aluminum bottle production (a big sell at concert and sports venues)
- $82 million is headed into Anheuser’s supply chain. Some of the cash will build state of the art distribution centers in Los Angeles and Ohio
- $10 million will be invested in non-alcoholic operations in Baldwinsville, New York
- $28 million expands Fort Collins, Colorado brewery’s aluminum bottle production, and new dry-hop capabilities
- $18 million at Williamsburg facility for new technology and labeling machines
- $12 million at Cartersville, Georgia facility for new packing capabilities, and new energy efficiency
- $13 million for the Saint Louis facility for new beechwood tanks, and new abilities to brew new brands
- $11 million at Merrimack to to begin innovative cross brewing capabilities…alongside craft partners.
- $11 Million at Jacksonville for aluminum bottles
- $8 million will be spent at Houston to brew Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus, and aluminum bottle production
With 10 new breweries under their belt, the new distribution facilities are a requirement. Additionally, at least one of the production facilities is gearing up to brew beer from their acquired, former craft breweries (at minimum Space Dust IPA).
By the looks of things, ABI is investing in themselves and their presence in the American market. Most likely expect to see brands like Wicked Weed, Four Peaks, Karbach, and Golden Road going national. Let’s leave it with a quote from Anheuser’s VP of Supply:
“We are focusing on investments which empower our employees to do what they do best – brewing the best beer. Ninety-eight percent of the beer we sell in America is proudly made here at our 21 breweries using the highest quality ingredients.” – Dave Taylor, Vice President of Supply for Anheuser-Busch.
Today some American craft breweries took to social media to voice their concerns about another Anheuser-Busch maneuver. This time it has to do with hops.
We have verified the facts amidst the social media outrage. The news emerged in a memo from ZA Hops, an independent hop distributer. ZA Hops previously had access to and sold surplus South African hops, grown by farms under the SAB umbrella. Confirmed by Paul Gatza of the Brewers Association, ZA Hops was informed that surplus hops from SAB Hop Farms in South Africa would no longer be sold outside of the AB InBev network. The memo they sent out included the statement:
I was informed by SAB Hop Farms (part of ABI’s purchase of SAB-Miller) that ABI are commandeering all the hops that were to be allocated for distribution to North American craft brewers. The goal is to sell the hops internally to their acquired (former) craft breweries, even though they have not been able to sell all the hops as of yet. Regardless, they refuse to let US craft brewers buy any CY 2017 hops believing this will afford them a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace. – ZA Hops (Full memo below)
This isn’t entirely surprising since the acquisition of SABMiller, including SAB Hop Farms, occurred in the fall of 2015 thereby giving ownership to AB InBev. However, many breweries have lashed out today at the news that they will not have access to purchase SAB grown South African hops this harvest.
This move by AB InBev opens an interesting discussion however. While they are completely within their rights to use their own assets (hops in this case), within their own breweries, and restrict competitors (North American craft breweries), it has incited the industry into some interesting reactions.
The biggest chord struck seems to be a general fear at the shear size and power of AB. Following the shocking news this week about Wicked Weed, the craft beer industry has to feel like no one is safe. To follow that purchase with the loss of previously accessible hop varieties, once again to AB, can’t feel good.
It seems a scary pattern of vertical integration becoming clearer and clearer each year. Distributers, craft breweries, even home brew supply shops to name a few. Now they have cut off an entire hop region from anyone outside of AB InBev.
We find ourselves asking, how far will this go? Will AB InBev try to vertically integrate even further and expand their North American hop sector as well? This week has made it pretty obvious that even those we thought would never sell, do.
America’s craft sector has made amazing leaps and bounds with hundreds of new craft breweries founded every year. In fact this year, the U.S. hit over 5000 craft breweries during a generation that is encouraged to “drink local” and “drink craft.” It’s become pretty clear that AB has noticed and is waging war. They started quietly at first, but this week has been pretty loud to the ears of craft beer lovers.
At the end of the day, the news has been rough on craft beer this week. It has raised a lot of anger, fears, and questions. But frankly, what did we expect from AB? For them to lay back and watch their percentage of the beer market shrink year after year and say, “well its only fair, at least the people have choices?”
No, this move is exactly what should be expected from Anheuser-Busch. It falls right in line with historically how they do business. How they grew so large and became such a powerhouse in the first place. It’s smart business. As a publicly traded company, their responsibility is to their shareholders, not their competitors.
But does it suck for the breweries we know and love? Absolutely. Does it suck for all who support independent craft brewers and loved those yummy South African hopped beers? Absolutely.
FULL: ZA Hops Memo:
“Along with the news late last week of ABI buying Wicked Weed, I was informed by SAB Hop Farms (part of ABI’s purchase of SAB-Miller) that ABI are commandeering all the hops that were to be allocated for distribution to North American craft brewers. The goal is to sell the hops internally to their acquired (former) craft breweries, even though they have not been able to sell all the hops as of yet. Regardless, they refuse to let US craft brewers buy any CY 2017 hops believing this will afford them a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace. So unfortunately, there will be no CY 2017 hops available from ZA Hops. Whether they decide to sell to the craft beer market independently is unclear at this point should they not be able to allocate all the hops internally. This is a shocking turn of events, though commensurate with ABI’s business practices, and devastating to my company – yet another blow to craft beer.”
Image: Beer Street Journal/ Elk Mountain Hop Farm
It’s undeniable that Stone Brewing is well-known for brewing big west coast style IPAs. Breweries like Stone and Sierra Nevada have shaped the perception of the American IPA. Then quietly, or not-so-quietly, folks in New England brought the the haze craze to life. Paying homage to the new, Stone Nor’ East Nod Double IPA is coming.
The lack of bitterness is an earmark of the “New England Style IPA” or NEIPA. Stone’s repertoire of west coast styles are big on hops, finishing notably bitter. Stone Nor’ East Nod Double IPA will be far less so than the brewery is accustomed to.
The 21st Anniversary Nor’East Nod India pale ale is in inspiration of, and ode to, what many of our comrades in the northeast are currently brewing, and we happily drinking. It’s an India pale ale, for sure, but not like we’ve ever experienced before. Our past as early progenitor of the West Coast style of India pale ale means we are intimately familiar, in fact still very much in love with, lingering bitterness. Unlike that, THIS India pale ale is all ’bout hop flavor with a sweet, bright, decidedly UN-bitter finish. ‘Nuff said. Give this sweet hoppy nectar a try. We’re pretty sure you’ll like it as much as we do.
Stone Nor’ East Nod Double IPA is slated for 22 ounce bottles and draft, potentially in August. The brewery has not yet announced this release.
Style: Imperial IPA
Availability: 22oz Bottles, Draft.
Debut: August, 2017