It was 97 degrees in the shade in Atlanta on this particular Saturday, but the festival must go on. Live! at The Battery Atlanta and Terrapin Taproom held their annual beer festival right right at the gates to the Atlanta Braves stadium.
One thing is certain, it doesn’t matter if the heat index is 106 degrees, it’s still summer and there is drinking to do. The VIP section was inside, complete with food and free tie-dyed t-shirts, so those VIP ticket holders really won the day on that purchase.
Besides the heat, a few standouts on the day was Stillfire Brewing’s Blood Orange Diva, a wheat beer and Atlanta Hawks DJ, Chika Takai that threw down dance party all the way to the end – where incidentally it started to rain at the final seconds of her set.
Plus it’s not many beer festivals where you can leave the festival and walk into a bar 100 feet away. That’s The Battery Atlanta for you.
Maybe next year’s fest will be a little cooler.
Under new U.S. government guidelines, Americans could soon be warned not to drink more than 2 beers per week.
The Biden Administration’s “alcohol czar” Dr. George Koob says Americans might be told to limit themselves to just two beers a week under potential new alcohol guidelines.
Koob made big news Friday (of all times of the week) that the USDA might soon revise their drinking guidance to just two drinks per week. The genesis of this potential guidance comes on the heels of a “grand experiment” in Canada, where the government advises their citizens to limit themselves to two beers per week.
Currently, United States guidelines state women can have one bottle of beer, or a small glass of wine, or a shot PER WEEK, doubling that for men.
Digging through USDA references, alcohol intake is defined as
“Containing 14 grams (0.6 fl oz) of pure alcohol. The following count as one alcoholic drink equivalent: 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol).”
Koob told the DailyMail there were “no benefits to drinking alcohol in terms of a person’s physical health while admitting he enjoyed buttery Californian chardonnays weekly.
Canada’s restrictive drinking guidelines were announced earlier this year, dropping previous suggestions of 15 drinks for men and 10 for women to two or less. Canada’s announcements come after new research from multiple academic institutions suggests that drinking even minimally can lead to many health risks.
If the United States changes the drinking guidelines, they won’t be announced until late 2025.
New Realm’s distilling arm ramped up big this summer, launching spirits in both on and off-premise retail.
So let’s get real about New Realm Savannah. The location brought New Realm Vodka and a line of RTDs into the world that to this day are still doing quite well. And yet, despite high hopes for the city covered in Spanish moss, there were a plethora of factors that constantly worked against it. New Realm had to take an “L” on Savannah but the spirits program wasn’t done.
New Realm Brewing appeared out of seemingly nowhere in 2018 with the largest opening brewing capacity in Georgia’s history (around 20,000 barrels). They blew through that capacity in just months, and not long after, the brewery found itself with a second location in Virginia Beach. After making such an aggressive mark on the beer world, naturally, the spirits world was next. That’s where Savannah, Georgia, came to be.
Back to Atlanta.
Inside New Realm’s Atlanta brewery was a small barrel room used mostly for barrel-aged beers. It morphed in a little event space for private parties or the occasional beer dinner. That’s where New Realm resurrected the spirits program, putting in a whole new distillery, after selling the Savannah still and buying a new hybrid still. Kevin Ford, Master Distiller, with a previous history at Buffalo Distillery heads up the program, and just like New Realm’s beer program, lightning is striking again.
Here in summer 2023, a craft distilling program that once seemed ancillary to New Realm’s vision is front and center. Anything subtle about New Realm Distilling can be considered a thing of the past, with Ford running the show. He’s a pretty humble and down to earth distiller who has basically cannonballed into the deep end of the booze pool in Atlanta and beyond.
“We really didn’t want to do this the way it’s been done before.”
If you want to source bourbon for your own program, most of it will come come from one of three different distilleries. To Ford, that would be basically checking boxes. “Same juice, different bottle. That didn’t sit well with me,” he says. So while New Realm’s 100% in-house bourbon ages, New Realm did something a little different – sourcing bourbon from small, younger Texas and Kentucky distillers and blending it at home. The result is a bourbon blend with hints of toasted walnut and brown sugar that hit the market initially in April 2022. New Realm’s 100% in-house bourbon is aging as you read this.
Vodka. Gin. Rum. Agave.
Vodka is fairly easy and quick to make, which is why almost every burgeoning spirits program starts with it. Incidentally, New Realm Vodka sells extremely well at the Atlanta location. Rum, Gin and Tequila are a little more complicated if you want to do it right. Craft beer brewing is a constant exploration, so why can’t distilling be as well?
The goal is to be a little different. That meant not buying liquid and relabeling it. “That’s back to checking boxes,” Ford says. Kevin started with a standout legacy Jamaican rum producer, then distilling Savannah-made molasses and blending.
Producing tequila proved to be more complicated however, since the spirit is protected. If you want to call it tequila, it has to be made in Jalisco, Mexico. In the U.S. it’s fairly common for a small distiller to buy bulk agave syrup and ferment it. “It’s just not good that way, so we pushed in a different direction,” Ford says. “We were going to do this the hard way by growing our own, but in the end we found a Mexican based producer that grows Blue Webber agave and roasts and extracts it for us,” he adds. New Realm distills it in Atlanta, creating a spirit as close to authentic tequila as possible.
Introducing the “Cask Series”
Spirits are a lot like beer. You need that limited release that piques interest. In this instance, it’s less of a customer hook and more of a playground for Ford that will constantly change. This newly minted series uses specially sourced barrels like Oloroso Sherry and Madeira to create uniquely finished bourbons.
Only half of the volume from these barrels has been bottled (in honor of the brewery’s 5th birthday). They have then been refilled with the flagship bourbon and racked away again for a while. This solera method guarantees this specialty series will constantly change.
Selling Faster Than We Can Sustain
“Vodka is our number one seller in Atlanta, and bourbon at Virginia Beach, and it’s all selling faster than we can currently sustain,” Ford says. It would seem after the last two years of drinking to survive, folks want to spend their money on good liquid. New Realm is distilling at both Atlanta and Virginia Beach but is currently on the hunt for a full-scale production facility in the southeast. “It’s crazy to work at a place where the sky’s the limit,” Ford adds. “New Realm is happier making things the hard way as long as it’s good.”
This summer might be the “summer of spirits” for New Realm, having now expanded their vodka and bourbon and other spirits offerings beyond the brewery/distillery walls. It was something the New Realm had always planned to do when the time was right.
Recently, we asked New Realm co-founder Carey Falcone about the spirits distribution expansion. “It all happened a little in reverse,” he says. The demand was there before we went big with it, where I thought we would launch and build demand.”
Time works in your favor sometimes. It certainly does for whiskey.
It seems like only yesterday that the beer industry would spend their days and weeks wondering who Anheuser-Busch would buy next. It all started when A-B bought Goose Island back in 2011. Fast forward to today, Bud Light is no longer the #1 selling beer in America, and Anheuser-Busch is selling off breweries they once acquired to a cannabis company.
Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewery, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Company, Blue Point Brewery, and Hi Ball Energy have been sold to Tilray Brands Inc. in an all-cash deal that will close by the end of 2023.
By Tilray’s estimates, this acquisition will put them as the 5th largest craft brewing company in the United States, upfront 9th. Combined, the craft brewing portfolio is worth $300 million.
According to Andy Thomas, the president of Bud’s “The High End,” the brewery’s segment of craft breweries they have purchased (Goose Island, Wicked Weed Brewing) stated in a press release that Tilray approached Bud earlier this year about acquiring these brands – which would pre-date Budweiser’s massive multi-billion dollar crash this summer after a failed marketing move with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Ty Gilmore, the president of U.S. Beer at Tilray states this transaction will push their beer production from 4 million case equivalents to 12 million.
Tilray is headquartered in New York City, with operations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America, with an annual revenue of $628 million dollars in 2022.
Anchor Brewing Company, founded in 1896, is closing its doors for good.
Just about a month ago, Anchor announced Christmas Ale, a beloved seasonal that has been released continually for the last 47 years was no more. The move shocked much of the brewery’s fanbase.
Additionally, the brewery dropped distribution to 49 states, limiting sales to just California.
According to the brewery, the fallout from the pandemic, inflation, and the highly competitive market in Anchor’s hometown of San Franciso led to the difficult decision.
Sam Singer, a brewery spokesperson, tells Beer Street Journal that “Anchor has invested great passion and significant resources into the company. Unfortunately, today’s economic pressures have made the business no longer sustainable, and we had to make the heartbreaking decision to cease operations.”
In 2017, Japan’s Sapporo Holdings acquired the brewery.
Anchor has officially stopped brewing beer. Any remaining beer will continue to be packaged and sold until the supply is depleted – which includes a small amount of Christmas Ale.
Employees were informed of the closure on Tuesday, and were given 60 days with “transition support and separation packages.” Per Singer, Anchor is in the process of negotiating an arrangement with an Assignee to retain as part of a California Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (“CA ABC”), an alternative to filing for Court-monitored federal Chapter 7 or 11.
Under this process, Anchor will retain an Assignee to whom all its assets will be irrevocably assigned and then liquidated, the proceeds of which, the Assignee will use to pay off Anchor’s creditors. Once selected and retained, the CA ABC Assignee will be wholly responsible for liquidating the company’s assets and paying creditors.
Singer also mentioned Anchor, and presumably Sapporo, had been looking for a buyer the brewery and brands over the course of the last year, with no success.
After years of national distribution, a heritage brand and legend in the beer industry will disappear from most of America this month. Anchor Brewing is drastically cutting its distribution footprint and cutting a famed Christmas seasonal release.
From now on, Anchor Brewing will only be available in California, where the brewery does 70% of its business.
“Tough economic realities”
Anchor and their external public relations teams were pretty terse on the root causes of this move, only stating that the cutting of America’s longest-running Anchor Christmas Ale was due to “time-intensive and costly brewing and packaging requirements.” Annual releases of Christmas Ale date back to 1975. Every single label since year one depicted a different hand-drawn tree, as well as a slightly different recipe every year.
There isn’t another Christmas beer in America that has been released annually longer than Anchor Christmas.
Anchor Brewing was founded in 1896, and saved from bankruptcy by Fritz Maytag in 1965. In 2017, Japan’s Sapporo Holdings acquired the brewery. Sapporo went on to acquire Stone Brewing as well in 2022.
Sam Singer, a representative for Anchor Brewing tells Beer Street Journal that the brewery will continue to take orders outside of California through 6/15/23. Any current “on order” product will ship through July 31, 2023.
A small amount of Anchor Christmas will be available on draft at Anchor Public Taps this coming season.
“A Ghost of Christmas Past”
Any mention of Anchor Christmas Ale has been scrubbed from Anchor’s website.
Image: Beer Street Journal
The Brewers Association, the trade association representing America’s craft brewers, has released its annual beer production report for 2022. Each year, this data is the best available when assessing the real “state of beer and craft beer” in America.
Definition of “craft.”
The Brewers Association’s definition of a “craft brewery” has changed slightly over the years. The biggest change to the definition was in 2011 when the production cap was changed from 2,000 to 6,000. Then in 2018, the BA stated the majority of a craft brewer’s production doesn’t have to come from beer. The latest definition includes an ownership statement – less than 25% of a great brewery is owned or controlled by an economic interest that is not itself a craft brewer. (For example, Monster Energy. More on that later.)
For years, you would see movement in and out of the Top 50 Craft, based on production volume shift, or a craft brewer departing the list after being purchased by an entity like Anheuser Busch. Lately, the list is seeing the rise of brewing “collectives” like CANarchy and Artisanal Brewing Ventures.
Rise of the “Collectives”
The craft brewing collectives are becoming pretty common as craft brewing is changing. A few years ago Victory Brewing and Southern Tier dropped from the top 50 to be found under the Artisanal Brewing Ventures header, along with Sixpoint. CANarchy was formed in 2015, and purchased by Monster Energy in 2022, which includes Cigar City, Deep Ellum, Oskar Blues, Perrin, and Utah Brewers Cooperative.
The newer collectives and new to the BA Top 50 include Tilray Beer Brands, which is a pharmaceutical/cannabis company that owns SweetWater Brewing, Montauk, Green Flash, and Alpine Beer. In July 2022, Maui Brewing purchased Modern Times and formed Craft Ohana.
No Top Surprises
Yuengling still holds the number one spot in craft brewing and has since at least 2014, followed by Boston Beer Co., whose volume includes Alchemy & Science, Angel City, Dogfish Head, Concrete Beach, and Coney Island brands. Sierra Nevada speaks for itself at 3, followed by Duvel Moortgat (Firestone Walk, Boulevard, Ommegang) and Gambrinus (Shiner & Trumer brands).
Most in the United States
When considering the total U.S. beer volume with craft included, Anheuser Busch will most likely always have the top spot, unless they find another business-damaging PR move. Number one in craft volume Yuengling ranks 7th in overall U.S. volume, with Boston Beer at 9th and Sierra Nevada at 10th.
Top 50 Craft Breweries by Volume – 2022
|1||D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc||Pottsville||PA|
|2||Boston Beer Co||Boston, Milton||MA, DE|
|3||Sierra Nevada Brewing Co||Chico||CA|
|4||Duvel Moortgat USA||Paso Robles, Kansas City, Cooperstown||CA, MO, NY|
|5||Gambrinus Company||Shiner, Berkeley||TX, CA|
|6||Artisanal Brewing Ventures||Dowingtown, Lakewood, Brooklyn||PA, NY, NY|
|8||CANarchy||Longmont, Tampa, Salt Lake City, Comstock, Dallas||CO, FL, UT, MI, TX|
|9||Tilray Beer Brands||Atlanta, Montauk, San Diego||GA, NY, CA|
|12||New Glarus Brewing Co||New Glarus||WI|
|13||Athletic Brewing Company||Milford||CT|
|14||Matt Brewing Co||Utica||NY|
|15||Minhas Craft Brewery||Monroe||WI|
|17||Gordon Biersch Brewing Co||San Jose||CA|
|18||Great Lakes Brewing Company||Cleveland||OH|
|19||Stevens Point Brewery||Stevens Point||WI|
|20||Allagash Brewing Company||Portland||ME|
|21||Georgetown Brewing Co||Seattle||WA|
|22||Odell Brewing Co||Fort Collins||CO|
|24||Three Floyds Brewing||Munster||IN|
|25||Troegs Brewing Co||Hershey||PA|
|26||Summit Brewing Co||Saint Paul||MN|
|27||Narragansett Brewing Co||Providence||RI|
|28||Craft Ohana||Kihei, San Diego||HI, CA|
|29||August Schell Brewing Company||New Ulm||MN|
|30||Kings & Convicts Brewing||San Diego||CA|
|31||Pittsburgh Brewing Co||Pittsburgh||PA|
|32||Alaskan Brewing Co||Juneau||AK|
|33||Kona Brewing Co||Kailua-Kona||HI|
|34||Flying Dog Brewery||Frederick||MD|
|35||Abita Brewing Co||Covington||LA|
|37||Creature Comforts Brewing Co||Athens||GA|
|38||BrewDog Brewing Company||Canal Winchester||OH|
|40||Lost Coast Brewery||Eureka||CA|
|41||Rogue Ales Brewery||Newport||OR|
|42||Surly Brewing Company||Minneapolis||MN|
|43||Ninkasi Brewing Co||Eugene||OR|
|44||Saint Arnold Brewing Co||Houston||TX|
|45||IndieBrew||Atlanta, Nashville||GA, TN|
|46||Shipyard Brewing Co||Portland||ME|
|47||Jack’s Abby Brewing||Framingham||MA|
|48||North Coast Brewing Co||Fort Bragg||CA|
|49||Pizza Port Brewing Company||Carlsbad||CA|
|50||Made by the Water||New Orleans, Apalachicola, Asheville, Charleston||LA, FL, NC, SC|
Top 50 Breweries by Volume Overall – 2022
|1||Anheuser-Busch Inc (a)||St. Louis||MO|
|4||Heineken USA (d)||White Plains||NY|
|5||Pabst Brewing Co (e)||Los Angeles||CA|
|7||D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc||Pottsville||PA|
|8||FIFCO USA (g)||Rochester||NY|
|9||Boston Beer Co (h)||Boston, Milton||MA, DE|
|10||Kirin-Lion / New Belgium Brewing (i)||Fort Collins, Comstock||CO, MI|
|11||Sierra Nevada Brewing Co||Chico||CA|
|12||Duvel Moortgat USA (j)||Paso Robles, Kansas City, Cooperstown||CA, MO, NY|
|13||Founders Brewing / Mahou San Miguel (k)||Grand Rapids, Boulder||MI, CO|
|14||Gambrinus (l)||Berkeley, Shiner||CA, TX|
|15||Artisanal Brewing Ventures (m)||Downingtown, Lakewood, Brooklyn||PA, NY, NY|
|16||Stone Brewing (n)||Escondido||CA|
|17||CANarchy (o)||Longmont, Tampa, Salt Lake City, Comstock, Dallas||CO, FL, UT, MI, TX|
|18||Tilray Beer Brands (p)||Atlanta, Montauk, San Diego||GA, NY, CA|
|19||Sapporo USA (q)||San Francisco||CA|
|22||New Glarus Brewing Co||New Glarus||WI|
|23||Athletic Brewing Company||Stratford||CT|
|24||Matt Brewing Co (r)||Utica||NY|
|25||Minhas Craft Brewery (s)||Monroe||WI|
|27||Gordon Biersch Brewing Co||San Jose||CA|
|28||Great Lakes Brewing Company||Cleveland||OH|
|29||Stevens Point Brewery (t)||Stevens Point||WI|
|30||Allagash Brewing Company||Portland||ME|
|31||Georgetown Brewing Co||Seattle||WA|
|32||Odell Brewing Co||Fort Collins||CO|
|34||Three Floyds Brewing (u)||Munster||IN|
|35||Troegs Brewing Co||Hershey||PA|
|36||Summit Brewing Co||Saint Paul||MN|
|37||Narragansett Brewing Co||Pawtucket||RI|
|38||Craft Ohana (v)||Kihei, San Diego||HI/CA|
|39||August Schell Brewing Company (w)||New Ulm||MN|
|40||Kings & Convicts Brewing/Ballast Point||San Diego||CA|
|41||Pittsburgh Brewing (x)||Pittsburgh||PA|
|42||Alaskan Brewing Co||Juneau||AK|
|43||Kona Brewing Co (y)||Kailua-Kona||HI|
|44||Flying Dog Brewery||Frederick||MD|
|45||Abita Brewing Co||Covington||LA|
|48||BrewDog Brewing Co||Canal Winchester||OH|
|50||Lost Coast Brewing Co||Minneapolis||MN|