Music collaborations are nothing new in craft beer but that doesn’t make each one unique. This is an either way it’s cool statement – New Realm Brewing is releasing a beer with the band Blackberry Smoke. If you know the band, you’re already excited. If you’re not there yet, their music is in the tv show Yellowstone. In yet?
This collaboration comes from a mutual friendship between the band and New Realm Brewing that started back in high school. Here are New Realm, fresh cans of New Realm Blackberry Smoke Lager are being signed by Brit Turner, drummer. He greets me with a smile and a beard that literally says musican or craft brewer.
Blackberry Smoke, a rock/blues/country band formed in Atlanta, Georgia 21 years ago. “The best way to celebrate your 21st is with a beer!” Turner jokes. “But really though, it’s the best way I can see. it.” He always hoped there would be a full scale band inspired beer, but getting one is harder than you think. Brewery capacity and distribution is a complicated thing. Turner says there was a small scale “Smoke” beer made in North Carolina a few years ago, that was available at one of their sold out shows. The band hoped the rest would be available in distribution later. Their rabid music and beer-loving fans managed to drink it all that night and there was none left over.
“We knew a few of the New Realm Brewing folks as far back as high school,’ Turner says. We have basically have our own record label situation and making a beer with a craft brewer really made sense to us,” he adds. Blackberry Smoke started a year before the first iPod, a few years before YouTube and more than a decade before Spotify. “Our only choice was to tour,” say Turner. Craft beer has that “out of the garage” feel to it like a lot of rock bands.
In preparation for Blackberry Smoke Lager, Turner sat down for a tasting session with brewmaster and co-founder Mitch Steele. “A lager just makes sense,” Steele tells me. “We made it with a touch of pilsner malt on top of 2-Row, so there’s a little bit of Europe in this lager.” It’s crazy how many bands we’ve interviewed lean towards the lighter side of beer like a pilsner or lager. Almost every time their reasoning is that they want to drink a few on stage and still be able to play.
Over the course of a few hours with the band, Turner’s excitement was solely focused on what this beer means to their fans. Steele and Turner designed it with them in mind. “They got us where we are, and we wanted to do something for them,” Turner says. “I’m more excited to see them drink it then I am to have it.”
Mitch Steele himself is a guitarist and music fan, making it easy to put a little extra musical passion into it. Both brewing and music require emotion and passion if you want it to be good. New Realm Blackberry Smoke is about both.
Two decades ago Blackberry Smoke got together and started playing in bars. Not long after, they were performing with Guns N’ Roses, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Church, ZZ Top, and Zach Brown Band.
Honestly, to Turner and the rest of the band, this might be more exciting.
New Realm Blackberry Smoke Lager is available in 16-ounce cans and draft where ever New Realm is sold.
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft.
Debut: Late May, 2022
Last week, Pravda Brewery, located in Lviv, Ukraine shifted from making beer to Molotov cocktails. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, the brewery has opened up their recipes and artwork to the world’s craft brewers.
Pravda Brewery has made available the recipes and artwork of their award winning beers. The recipes include – Syla (Belgian tripel), Frau Ribbentrop (Belgian witbier), From San to Don (Ukrainian imperial stout) and Putin Huylo (a dry hopped strong ale). Incidentally, that beer name translates to Putin is a Dick.
“Brewing in Lviv now sounds like a non-priority,” the company wrote on its website. “The city is bracing for a fight. Alcohol is forbidden, and we once in a lifetime support it. But brewing now – like giving birth or a marriage – is hope. Beer takes several weeks to be ready. We hope we win by then.”
Pravda Brewery hopes that a few of America’s nearly 10,000 breweries will brew some of Pravda’s beers. All the brewery asks if they do, they would make donations to their relief fund efforts.
“As peaceful craft brewers, we want to return to the normal life asap and enjoy brewing and drinking. But first we must kick the cockroaches out of our land. No more Gulags, Holodomors and oppression. It’s a decisive moment for Ukraine, Europe and democracies of the world.
Soon will win this war and have a good beer. The Beer of Victory,” the post on their website ended.
As of March 10th, the Russia invasion of Ukraine is now in its 15 day. According to Reuters, the death toll is more than 13,000, with 100 billion in property damage.
Lviv, the home to Pravda Brewing is in western Ukraine near the border of Poland. The city has become a transit point for refugees fleeing the fighting.
Putin is done at Call To Arms Brewing in Denver, Colorado. Effective immediately, Vladimir’s image and name have been removed from the brewery’s flagship beer Shirtless Putin Catching Rays Dark Czech Lager, as well as any other beer names in the series.
The “Shirtless Putin” series debuted in 2016, when the internet was full of bizarre shirtless pictures of Putin, either on horseback or swimming in an icy lake.
It was funny until Putin started killing Ukrainians.
“The series’ original intent was to serve as a pointed criticism of Russian propaganda…The brewery does not want the name to be misconstrued in any way as supporting the Russian president or his actions,” says Call to Arms founder Chris Bell.
The series began with Catching Rays and Shirtless Putin Nuzzling with Dolphins Baltic Porter and grew to include Shirtless Putin on Horseback. All three beers will be renamed going forward.
“While we often like to poke fun at ourselves, timely events, and cultural moments as a whole, at the core of Call to Arms, we stand behind human decency and condemn the action of Russia’s escalating aggression against Ukraine As a result, we no longer feel it is appropriate to reference Putin on our beers regardless of the original intent of the series.” – Chris Bell
A new name for the series has not been announced. In the meantime, Call to Arms has partnered with their Two Six Craft Beer Distributors to donate $1 of every Dark Czech Lager six-pack sold to UNICEF’s children of Ukraine Fund until all the inventory bearing the current imagery is gone.
Portland, Oregon’s Hair of the Dog Brewing, one of America’s oldest craft breweries will close sometime this summer. Founder Alan Sprints announced this week he will retire from the industry. The brewery opened in 1993.
Sprints gave the brewery fans a bitter Valentine’s Day gift when he posted his retirement video to the brewery’s Facebook group page on Monday.
Hair of the Dog has long been known for barrel-aged and strong ale offerings. Sprints went the strong beer route because he never liked feeling full on beer, saying on numerous occasions he wanted to drink two beers that make you feel like you’ve had six. His success is hard to argue, as some of Sprint’s creations e sold for hundreds, and in rare cases- 1000’s of dollars in the secondary market over the years. “I was making barrel-aged beer when folks thought it was weird to do so,” Sprints once told Beer Street Journal.
The brewery was originally built near the Brooklyn rail yards in 1993. In 2010, the brewery moved to Portland’s southeast industrial warehouse district, making Hair of the Dog more accessible to visitors and residents alike.
Even as the brewery winds down operations near the 3-decade mark, Hair of the Dog still only produces just shy of 600 barrels (18,600 gallons) annually in a 4-barrel brewhouse. Sprits is still one of the smallest craft brewers in America.
“Beer has been very very good to me, I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend over half my life doing something I love so much,” Sprints said in his announcement video. A specific closing date was not announced, other than summer 2022.
Additionally, Sprints said he is open to collaborating with other breweries in the future. Hair of the Dog itself will not be sold.
Signing off, Sprints invites the public to come through before the taproom closes. “Please plan on coming down in the next few months, and help us celebrate the diverse world of beer that exists today.”
If you think the beer industry has cycled through every weird style trend or odd business acquisition, think again. Monster Beverage Corp, makers of Monster Energy Drinks has acquired CANarchy, the craft beer collective. CANarchy includes Oskar Blues, Cigar City Brewing, Perrin Brewing, Deep Ellum, and Squatters and Wasatch Brewing.
It had been heavily rumored that Monster Beverage had intended to enter the alcoholic beverage industry as early as pre-pandemic 2019.
The $330 million all-cash deal sees Monster gaining the 6th largest craft brewing company in the United States, with an annual beer volume of nearly 500,000 barrels. In addition, the beverage company gains instant access to all brewery infrastructure, employee expertise, and distribution channels.
In a press release, vice chairman and co-CEO Hilton Schlosberg of Monster stated, “The acquisition will provide us with a fully in-place infrastructure, including people, distribution, and licenses, along with alcoholic beverage development expertise and manufacturing capabilities in this industry.”
In 2020 it was also rumored that Monster wanted to make their mark in the hard seltzer market, competing with Coca-Cola’s Topo Chico, and Pepsi’s Hard Mtn Dew, a collaboration with Boston Beer that debuts in the spring. Additionally, Monster was in talks with Constellation about a potential merger as well last year.
With the purchase of CANarchy, Monster Beverage picks up nationally distributed Wild Basin Hard Seltzer, Cigar City Limeade Seltzer, Ellum Ranch Hard Seltzer, and Rewired Hard Seltzer by Perrin Brewing.
Monster plans to roll out new beverages later this year, testing them regionally before ramping up to national distribution.
CANarchy will continue to operate independently of Monster Beverage Corp.
UPDATE: The Brewer’s Association, the not-for-profit trade organization representing the craft brewing industry, has issued a statement surrounding the purchase of CANarchy this afternoon.
The Brewers Association (BA) is aware of CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective’s pending sale to Monster Beverage. Based on our current information, CANarchy meets the Brewers Association’s craft brewer definition under the ownership of Monster Energy as presently constituted. In this instance, Monster is not a beverage alcohol industry member, so this new ownership structure does not affect CANarchy’s independence in regard to the beverage alcohol industry. The Brewers Association defines small and independent craft brewers as:
- Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to rules of alternating proprietorships.
- Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
- Brewer: Has a TTB Brewer’s Notice and makes beer.
Atlanta, Georgia-based SweetWater Brewing has acquired the Mira Mesa, California-based Green Flash Brewing, and Alpine Beer brands.
SweetWater is not acquiring the facility or brewing equipment, that will apparently remain with current owners to be put up for sale or other entrepreneurship opportunities.
Green Flash and Alpine beer production will move to SweetWater’s newly opened Fort Collins, Colorado facility.
Just over a year ago, SweetWater Brewery was acquired for $300 million dollars by Aphria, a Canadian-based cannabis company. The deal in part due to the brewery’s successfully ‘420 Strain’ of beers created using cannabis terpenes (organic smell compounds).
Financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed.
SweetWater Brewery is ranked 11th overall in annual production according to the Brewer’s Association.
Developing story. Check back for more details.
Larry Bell, founder of Bell’s Brewery announced at noon today a sale to Lion, an Australian subsidiary of Kirin, which is currently New Belgium’s parent company. Upon this this announcement, Bell will retire.
Bell framed the sell in his announcement as “joining forces with New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado (and Asheville, North Carolina). New Belgium Brewing sold to Lion almost two years ago this week in 2019. The sale includes Bell’s spin-off venture, Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba, Michigan.
“By bringing together two of the largest and fastest-growing craft brand families in the country and unifying our companies under a single business model, we’re creating one of the best and largest craft portfolios in the country. Under the terms of the deal, I am selling my stake in Bell’s to Lion, who acquired Colorado-based New Belgium in 2019,” says Larry Bell.
We are committed to keeping Bell’s strong and stable for generations to come, providing world-class beers to our fans every day. Our partnership with @newbelgium New Belgium will allow us to do that.
— Bell’s Brewery (@BellsBrewery) November 10, 2021
This sale will strip Bell’s Brewery’s “craft brewer” status definition set by the Brewers Association, who are currently ranked 7th largest craft brewery in the United States.
Larry Bell started Bell’s in his basement in 1983 on Wheaton Street, which then turned into a homebrew shop on Burdick Street in Kalamazoo. The brewery’s Two Hearted Ale has long been considered the India pale ale in America, in close contention with Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.
Bell says the day to day operations of the brewery and its nearly 550 employees will remain unchanged. Those employees join New Belgium’s 700 employees, for a combined brewery workforce of more than 1,200.
Bell’s Brewery in on track to produce 500,000 barrels (15,500,000 gallons) of beer in 2021. Operations will remain in Kalamazoo County.
Financials of the sale have not been disclosed.
Developing story. Check back for more details as they become available.