Posted December 2018
Germany – Brewers Diebels and Hasseröder in limbo after AB-InBev’s botched sale
For more than a year, AB-InBev has been trying to sell two of its German breweries, Diebels and Hasseröder. In January 2018, the world’s major brewer announced their sale to an industry outsider, an investor by the name of Daniel Deistler. Industry pundits were sceptical about the buyer’s financial nous and tapped their noses when in July the deal burst like a bubble. Read on
Luxembourg – Recreational cannabis to become legal: will cannabis drinks follow?
In early December 2018, the Grand Duchy’s incoming coalition government confirmed that it will legalise the recreational use of cannabis. Already, in June this year, Luxembourg legalised medicinal cannabis. Historically, countries changed their medical laws first to understand the public health implications. See Colorado, see California. See Canada. The government seeks to sell the weed to actual residents (600,000) only. We will see how long that will last and how this can be enforced. Each day (!), more than 180,000 people from neighbouring Germany, Belgium and France commute into Luxembourg for work. Read on
Spain – Heineken acquires majority stake in craft brewer La Cibeles
News broke on 3 December 2018 that Heineken has acquired a majority stake (allegedly 51 percent) in Spanish craft brewer La Cibeles, which was founded in 2010 by David Castro, 47, and is located in Leganés, on the outskirts of Madrid, where it brews an estimated 5,000 hl beer. No financial details were disclosed. Read on
United Kingdom – VJ Mallya should be extradited, court says
A British court ruled on 10 December 2018 that Mr Mallya, 62, should be extradited to his native India, from where he fled in 2016. India’s government accuses Mr Mallya, India’s former beer and drinks baron, of various crimes, including fraud, false representations and money laundering. In 2017, India cancelled his passport and requested his extradition. He was then arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London but released on bail. Read on
Italy – Salone del Gusto: What has become of Slow Food?
When in 1986 a group of Italian leftwingers were looking for an icon, around which to organise their protest against a McDonald’s opening in Rome’s ancient city centre, they ingeniously hit upon the snail. A symbol of slowness, it was pitched as a defence against modern fast food and industrial food and wine production, valuing the flavours and savours of regional produce over speed, scale and efficiency. As it strove to preserve traditional and regional cuisines and encourage the farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem, the Slow Food movement has caught the imagination of 100,000 members across the globe. Read on
USA – Constellation Brands to invest in women-led start-ups
Constellation Brands, through its venture capital group Constellation Brands Ventures, intends to invest USD 100 million in women-led start-ups by 2028, the company announced on 7 December 2018. No need for women to scream with joy: Constellation’s piggy bank will only spill forth an average of USD 10 million per year. That’s not a great deal of money. What’s more, only women will need to apply if they run a booze business. Read on
USA – American Homebrewers Association turns 40
Time for celebrations. The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) celebrated its 40th anniversary on 7 December 2018. Founded in 1978 by Charlie Papazian, the AHA has worked on behalf of the homebrewing community, serving tens of thousands of members, plus the 1.1 million homebrewers nationwide, with events, publications, resources, and more. Read on
Australia – Obituary: John Vernon Harvey, Nestor of the Australian brewing industry
John Harvey was not a man of many words. He was certainly not a chatterbox. He would sit, slightly bent forward in his favourite chair, and listen to what visitors and friends had to tell him. Read on
United Kingdom – Craft brewer Innis & Gunn to build breweries in Edinburgh and Toronto
What is it with Scottish craft brewers that they expand so quickly? BrewDog’s rival Innis & Gunn recently announced plans for a new GBP 20 million (USD 25 million) brewery in Edinburgh. Innis & Gunn was set up in 2003 by Dougal Sharp. The firm currently brews in Perthshire, where it bought the Inveralmond brewery in 2016, and in Glasgow under a long-term deal with brewer Tennent’s. Tennent’s is owned by Irish cider and drinks group C&C. The contract between Tennent’s and Innis & Gunn was signed in 2011 but will expire in 2020. Read on
USA – Proceeds from craft brewers’ collaboration IPA go to Californian fire relief funds
A laudable collaboration effort: From California to Florida, brewers have come together to help survivors of the Camp Fire. The fire, which raged for nearly three weeks in November 2018, has been the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in Californian history, covering more than 153,000 acres and killing at least 85 people. Craft brewer Sierra Nevada from Chico was not affected by the fire itself, but the town of Paradise (26,000 inhabitants), only 20 km away, was totally destroyed by it.
In support of survivors left destitute, Sierra Nevada has started brewing its Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, while sharing its recipe with all craft brewers and homebrewers across the nation. It has already put up USD 100,000 in seeding money. All proceeds from the beer will be donated to Camp Fire relief efforts. Read on
USA – Pabst and MillerCoors settle law suit
At the last minute, MillerCoors and Pabst settled their lawsuit on 28 November 2018, just as jurors were ending their second day of deliberations after a two-week trial in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Alas, details of the settlement were not disclosed. “We have reached an amicable settlement in the case and are pleased to resolve all outstanding issues with Pabst,” MillerCoors said in a statement. In a separate statement, Pabst said it “will continue to offer Pabst Blue Ribbon and the rest of our authentic, great tasting and affordable brews to all Americans for many, many years to come.” Read on
Germany – NGO Foodwatch awards Coke’s Smartwater the Golden Windbag prize
This year’s Foodwatch’s award for misleading advertising went to Coca-Cola’s Glacéau Smartwater. In an online poll, 30.5 percent of the almost 70,000 participants voted in favour of awarding Glacéau Smartwater the negative prize of “Golden Windbag”. The “winners” were announced on 4 December 2018.
According to Foodwatch, a German NGO, the water is no better than any mineral water, but up to seven times more expensive. The processing of the water is “completely nonsensical”, said Sophie Unger, Foodwatch’s campaign manager. For the production of Glacéau Smartwater, water is first evaporated and then captured again. Minerals lost in the process are later added. Read on
Germany – Beverage packaging cornucopia causes headaches
The summer of 2018 will go down in history as yet another scorcher. Germany’s beer and beverage producers did well out of it. From January through September, beer sales (excluding imports) rose nearly 1 percent over the same period in 2017. However, retailers and distributors were less pleased. They had got the short end of the stick as they faced capacity constraints at depots and a shortage of temporary labour, impacting their capability of sorting and shunting millions of returnable and refillable bottles around the country. Read on
Australia – Brooklyn shifts contract from Coopers to Lion
The contract to brew Brooklyn Lager and distribute its beers has been taken away from Adelaide’s Coopers Brewery and given to – guess who? – Lion. As of 18 December 2018, Brooklyn’s range of beers will be distributed by the Malt Shovel Brewery, Lion’s craft division. Brooklyn Lager will be brewed by Little Creatures in Geelong (Melbourne), which is a craft brewer also owned by Lion.
The move does not come as a surprise. In 2016 Kirin bought a 24.5 percent stake in Brooklyn, while Kirin owns Australia’s Big Brewer Lion outright.
The move sees an end to the brewing and distribution agreement with Coopers, which was signed in June 2015. Read on
Australia – Coopers posts profit growth but sales decline
Coopers Brewery, the country’s largest privately-owned brewer, has posted a 4 percent increase in profits for the 2017/2018 financial year, ending June 2018. However, after 24 consecutive years of sales hikes, Coopers saw beer sales drop 9 percent to less than 800,000 hl. This meant Coopers’ revenues declined to AUD 237 million (USD 173 million) from AUD 252 million in the previous year.
Coopers’ beer market share is almost 5 percent, which makes it still a distant third to Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), owned by AB-InBev, at 46 percent, and Lion, owned by Japan’s Kirin, at 42 percent. Read on
USA – Boston Beer keen on Brewers Association revising craft brewer definition
For the time being, the Brewers Association (BA) restricts its membership to craft brewers which are small, independent and traditional. This means that brewers’ annual production must be 6 million barrels of beer or less; that Big Brewers can only own less than 25 percent in them, and that the majority of their total sales volumes must be beer. Flavoured alcoholic beverages are not considered beers.
The trouble is: should Boston Beer, the brewer of Sam Adams beers, see volumes of its non-beer products rise to over 50 percent of total output – as is likely to happen in 2018 – it will need to be evicted from the ranks of the BA’s members. Of course, the BA does not want this to happen. But, at the same time, the BA does not want to be seen as tweaking the rules just to keep one albeit large, member on board. Read on
United Kingdom – Goose Island opens brewery and taproom in London
With over 130 breweries and contract breweries in Greater London, the UK’s capital has become Europe’s undisputed craft beer capital. Many breweries also run taprooms, which are becoming as important as local pubs. Nationally, pubs continue to close at an alarming rate, but in London, at least, punters are in a fix as to where to spend their money if they hanker after a craft beer.
Small wonder international brewers are piling into London – either by setting up shop themselves or by buying into existing ventures. The latest craft brewer to open a brewery and taproom is Chicago’s Goose Island, which is owned by AB-InBev. Goose Island is leading the way in a new global era of branded brewpubs, with venues in Philadelphia, Monterrey, Seoul, Shanghai, São Paulo and Toronto already. Read on
United Kingdom – Taxman collects over GBP 150 million from sugar tax
The new sugar tax on soft drinks has raised GBP 153.8 million (USD 196 million) since it was introduced in April 2018, the BBC reported on 20 November 2018. Covering the period from April to the end of October, it looks as if the tax is on track to raise the estimated proceeds of GBP 240 million (USD 306 million) for the full year. The levy is collected from manufacturers, whether they pass it on to consumers or not. There are 457 producers registered for the levy. Read on
Australia – First brewery co-op to open in Sydney
Inspired by Seattle’s cooperative brewery, Flying Bike, Australian homebrewers thought: “what a great idea” and decided they could do likewise. Sometime in January 2019, the Hopsters brewery and bar will open in Enmore, which is part of Sydney. The ten initial co-op members wrote the Hopsters constitution. They, and every other person who has joined since (over 300), have a stake in the business. Every person who joins gets a share, and no one person can hold more than 20 percent of the total stock.
All those involved also get one vote, regardless of share count, in Hopsters’ operations. They also have access to brewing equipment, educational events and discounts on Hopsters’ beers. Read on
Germany – Global consumption of wine on the increase
Global consumption of wine rose by 2 million hl to 244 million hl in 2017, according to the German Wine Institute (DWI), based on estimates by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). Following the global economic crisis in 2008, wine volumes dropped to 238 million hl from a peak of 250 million hl, but have since risen again. Read on
Germany – Obituary: Friedrich Schadeberg, senior partner of Krombacher Brewery
Few are blessed with such a long life and such a major achievement. It may have taken him several decades but Friedrich Schadeberg still managed to turn Krombacher from a village operation, doing about 50,000 hl in the early 1950s, into one of Germany’s largest privately-owned beer and beverage groups. Read on