Posted April 2019
USA – Craft Brewers Conference sniggers at Big Brewers’ Corngate
As AB-InBev continues to air Bud Light commercials saying that it is brewed without corn syrup, and its lawyers prepare to defend its case in court against MillerCoors, the Brewers Association is taking a backseat in all this.
“It’s not our fight”, Bob Pease, the BA’s President and CEO told a crowd of thousands of craft brewers in Denver. Craft beer is about independence, authenticity, collaboration, transparency and community-mindedness, he reminded delegates.
With over 7,300 craft breweries operating in the US today, fierce competition has become the “new normal”, he said. There were 1046 brewery openings in 2018 compared with 219 brewery closures. The BA believes that there are still 2,500 breweries in various stages of planning. Read on
United Kingdom – Carlsberg lager rebranded as Danish Pilsner
Is this a joke or real? After 40 years of brandishing its lager as “Probably the best beer in the world”, Danish brewer Carlsberg has confessed that its famous slogan may not be true any longer. In a response to declining sales and negative comments from drinkers, Carlsberg has relaunched its eponymous beer with a new recipe and a more crafty approach to marketing. The campaign, first seen in April 2019, declares: “Probably not the best beer in the world. So we’ve changed it.” Read on
Australia – Lion buys minority stake in Vanguard Luxury Brands
Seems like Lion is making lots of small entrepreneurs rich. It was kind of logical that Lion would push further into the craft spirits category after its recent 50 percent purchase of Four Pillars gin. On 4 April 2019, Australia’s number two brewer announced it had acquired a minority stake in the premium spirits distributor Vanguard Luxury Brands. No transaction details were disclosed. Read on
USA – Clothing brand Patagonia sues AB-InBev over Patagonia beer
Outdoor apparel company Patagonia has filed a lawsuit against AB-InBev on 9 April 2019, claiming that the brewer’s Patagonia beer is a “copycat brand”, in that it evokes Patagonia’s rugged, environmentally-friendly brand and logo. AB-InBev was granted a trademark to sell Patagonia beer in the US in 2012, but sat on the name until 2018, when it introduced the beer in Colorado. Reportedly, AB-InBev has marketed the beer with some success in Argentina, whose Patagonia region is famous for its majestic glaciers and mountains. Read on
USA – Mahou San Miguel raises its stake in craft brewer Avery
Spanish brewer Mahou San Miguel has hiked its stake in Colorado’s Avery brewery by teaming up with its other US craft brewery partner, Michigan’s Founders Brewery, on the new investment. Announced on 2 April 2019, Mahou, along with Founders, has purchased a 40 percent stake in Avery Brewing for an undisclosed sum. It will be combined with Mahou’s original 30 percent minority interest in Avery that was purchased in early 2018, giving Mahou a 70 percent controlling interest. Strengthening the tie between Avery and Founders makes sense as Avery started contract-brewing for Founders earlier this year. Read on
Germany – US craft brewer Stone sells Berlin brewery to BrewDog
Wow. Unexpectedly, US craft brewer Stone has sold its Berlin brewery and restaurant to Scottish craft brewer BrewDog. The transaction was announced on 5 April 2019.
BrewDog’s founder James Watt twittered: “We are delighted to announce that we have completed a deal to acquire an amazing brewery and taproom in Berlin from our good friends at Stone Brewing. We will officially take ownership of our new brewery on 1 May. The brewery we have acquired is in the Mariendorf neighbourhood of Berlin and was originally opened in 2016 in a beautiful and historic gasworks building which dates to 1901.” Read on
Germany – Lapse of time: Carlsberg not fined in beer cartel case
What a surprise. The procedure for Carlsberg’s appeal against the antitrust fine notice was dropped because of prescription. The court ruling of 2 April 2019 says that since the price fixing discussions took place in 2007, the time frame for a prosecution already lapsed in 2017.
Germany’s antitrust watchdog had issued its fines in 2014. Whereas the other German brewers paid up, Carlsberg appealed against the fine – then EUR 62 million – and took the case to court. In March 2019 the prosecutor had asked for Carlsberg’s original fine to be quadrupled.
Most likely, the case will drag on and will be taken to a higher court as the prosecution can appeal against the ruling.
United Kingdom – Lion acquires craft brewer Magic Rock
And another one goes to – Lion. Australia’s number two brewer, Lion, which is owned by Japan’s Kirin, has followed up on last year’s purchase of London’s Fourpure brewery with the acquisition of Yorkshire’s craft brewer Magic Rock. The full takeover was announced on 29 March 2019. Financial details were not disclosed. Located in Huddersfield, a town of 150,000 people halfway between Manchester and York, Magic Rock was founded by Richard Burhouse and head brewer Stuart Ross in 2011. It is one of the early craft breweries in the UK and famous for its IPAs, including its flagship Cannonball IPA. Read on
USA – Stone vs Keystone: Stone scores semi-victory in battle against MillerCoors
The mills of justice grind slowly. It took a federal judge more than a year to deny Stone Brewing its request for a preliminary injunction against MillerCoors over its Keystone Light product cans. In February 2018, Stone had sought an injunction to prevent MillerCoors from using the rebranded Keystone cans. After the rebrand, Keystone featured “Stone” on a separate line in bold fashion. Keystone – Stone geddit? While Stone did not get an injunction, the judge said that Stone’s trademark infringement case is “moderately strong”. Most likely, the case will now head to trial. Read on
Germany – Retailer flexes muscle against Kraft Heinz, PepsiCo and Nestlé
More troubles ahead for big food and beverage brands. Germany’s largest grocery retailer, EDEKA, with a turnover in excess of USD 65 billion, is taking on the food and beverage bigwigs. After picking a fight with Kraft Heinz’s tomato sauce, PepsiCo’s multivitamin juice Punica was caught in the line of fire.
As Lebensmittelzeitung, a German trade publication, reports, EDEKA has already kicked Punica from its shelves. Punica is owned by PepsiCo and there seems to be a dispute over terms. EDEKA has filled the gaps on the shelves with its private label brand Multi 12, whose packaging looks very much like Punica’s. Read on
USA – Boston Beer appoints former Uber manager to its board
How to market stuff to tech-happy Millennials? Ask someone from Uber, the ride-hailing firm. Better, still, appoint a former Uber manager to your board. The Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) just did that and in March 2019 appointed Meghan V. Joyce as an independent Director with immediate effect. Read on
USA – Dogfish Head releases beer that can process film
There are more than a dozen household uses for beer (excluding drinking it). Now craft brewer Dogfish Head has discovered another one. You can also use certain beers to develop film. The Delaware brewer has announced that it has produced a gose, a sour German-style beer, in cooperation with Kodak. Called SuperEight, the gose features eight main ingredients. If in a pinch, punters can use it to process Kodak’s Super 8 motion picture film. As Dogfish’s founder, Sam Calagione, had learnt, heightened levels of acidity and Vitamin C in some beers could also be used as a processing agent for some films. Read on
USA – Coca-Cola angers Monster with launch of Coke’s own energy drink
As Coke seeks to branch out from its core fizzy drinks category to become a “total-beverage company” by launching an energy drink under its own label, it does not seem to mind if it takes on its own partner, Monster, the world’s number two maker of energy drinks behind Red Bull. In late March 2019, Coca-Cola announced it is introducing its first branded energy drink in Spain and Hungary, to be followed by the UK and other markets later in the year. Read on