Beer Monopoly





    International Reports












Lithuania – Carlsberg and Brooklyn to establish a brewery in Klaipeda

For over a year there has been a persistent rumour that Carlsberg, in tow with Brooklyn Brewery, would establish some sort of presence in the Baltic country of Lithuania. On 11 July 2017 Carlsberg confirmed that it will invest about EUR 5 million (USD 5.7 million) in a line of new exclusive beers in Klaipeda, home of its Svyturys brewery.

Dainius Smailys, corporate director at Svyturys-Utenos Alus, was quoted as saying that Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery would become shareholders of a new company that will take over part of the current Svyturys-Utenos Alus plant. Svyturys-Utenos Alus is Lithuania’s beer market leader with a 35 percent share and controlled by Carlsberg.

A new company will be set up to become the operator of a new brewery and related businesses, namely, a restaurant, a beer knowledge centre, etc. (…) At the new company, Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery will hold about an equal number of shares,” he said.

The brewery’s capacity will reportedly be about 20,000 hl per year and will launch at the end of 2017. Read on


UK – Carlsberg buys London Fields brewery

Carlsberg’s executives probably think they made a bargain when they snapped up London Fields, which has been up for sale since its founder was charged with tax fraud, cheating the taxman out of more than GBP 700,000 (USD 914,000).

There cannot have been many parties bidding for London Fields because the brewery allegedly has been on the market for over a year. The initial asking price for the company, which runs a bar and a brewhouse venue in Hackney, east London, was GBP 1 million (USD 1.3 million), but Carlsberg would not confirm how much it paid or how much beer London Fields sells.

The Evening Standard newspaper reported on 3 July 2017 that the deal could be worth as much as GBP 4 million - which is basically small fry when compared to the prices Meantime and Camden Town fetched when sold.

At least London Fields comes with a story which is worthy of a Hollywood movie. Read on


UK – Siba to fight against encroachment of craft beer by Big Brewers

Market research seems to suggest that to many drinkers the company behind the pint does not matter. However, the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba) begs to differ. The usually good-natured trade body for Britain’s smaller brewers “has turned from mild to bitter”, writes the Guardian newspaper on 11 July 2017, following Carlsberg’s takeover of the London Fields brewery.

Deals such as these, said Siba’s chief Mike Benner, are “made in the hope of capturing the original customers and target market of an established, previously independent craft beer brewery”.

Mr Benner reportedly added: “Consumers deserve to know that what they are buying is a genuine craft-brewed beer as research clearly shows that most beer drinkers believe craft beer to be produced by relatively small, independent brewers.” Read on


Italy – Belgium’s Duvel Moortgat takes 35 percent stake in Del Ducato

Funny that they kept quiet over this transaction for more than six months. Only in early July 2017 did the family-owned brewer Duvel Moortgat admit to have taken a 35 percent stake in the Italian craft brewer Birrificio del Ducato, although the deal was already clinched in December 2016. No financial details were provided.

Founded in 2007 by Giovanni Campari and Manuel Piccolo and located in Roncole Verdi, a small village halfway between Milan and Bologna, Del Ducato is well-known amongst craft beer aficionados in Europe, brewing 5,000 hl beer last year, including ales, sours and beers with wine.

Del Ducato also runs two pubs in London, one in Chiswick (opened 2015) and one in Notting Hill (opened May 2017) after a successful crowdfunding campaign which flushed in over EUR 400,000 (USD 460,000). Read on


Belgium – Duvel Moortgat hikes volumes, turnover and profits in 2016

No wonder they could buy all those breweries: Duvel Moortgat set record results in 2016. Its turnover exceeded EUR 400 million for the first time. Since it left the stock exchange in 2013, the company’s turnover and profits more than doubled, media reported at the end of June 2017.

Duvel Moortgat’s total turnover grew more than 27 percent in its past fiscal year, from EUR 316 million to EUR 401.4 million (USD 460 million). It achieved both organic and external growth, thanks to several acquisitions (Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Amsterdam; Firestone Walker, California), which were fully consolidated for the first time. Read on


USA – August Busch IV appeared too intoxicated to take off in helicopter

The former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV is under investigation after appearing “too intoxicated to take off” hours after a helicopter landed in an office park near St Louis, US media reported on 13 July 2017.

Mr Busch, 53, was CEO of the St Louis-based brewer from 2006 until it was taken over by InBev in 2008. He is the great-great-grandson of Adolphus Busch, the founder of Anheuser-Busch.

According to media, a helicopter landed near buildings in an office park at around lunch time on 11 July. The pilot was gone by the time officers arrived.

In the evening a caller told police the pilot had returned “and appeared too intoxicated to take off.” An arriving officer found that the “helicopter rotors were spinning and the engine was revving up.”

Officers believed that Mr Busch was under the influence of a controlled substance. He was taken to a hospital for further testing.

Mr Busch, who has a commercial pilot’s license, spent the night in custody before being released the following afternoon.


Canada – Molson Coors to build new brewery in Montreal

Rather than spend big money on modernising its existing brewery in Montreal, Canada’s number two brewer Molson Coors has announced it will build a brand new brewery in the greater Montreal region, media reported on 5 July 2017.

Two years ago, the brewer launched a feasibility study looking into operations in the city. A site for the new plant has not yet been selected.

Initial reports suggested the new brewery would cost Molson Coors about USD 500 million, depending on the size.

The union representing the employees of Molson Montreal called the announcement “good news”, since it means that Molson Coors will retain a presence in Montreal. However, it worries that a shift to packaging cans rather than bottles would lead to job losses. Since 2016, there have already been 120 redundancies. Read on


USA – San Diego Craft Brewers Guild introduces membership identifiers

Club ties, school ties, even signet rings bearing a mark, crest, motif or symbol, are bog-standard insignia indicating membership in an exclusive club. They have been around like forever.

With over 130 breweries San Diego ranks among the top 10 US craft beer destinations. So it’s kind of remarkable that the San Diego Brewers Guild (SDBG) is only now thinking of introducing identifiers, after the Big Brewers have bought several of their former brethren, thus blurring the line between independently owned craft breweries and corporate craft breweries.

The San Diego Brewers Guild is convinced its best weapon is consumer education. As they see it, many consumers aren’t even aware that there is a dividing line between “independent craft producers” and producers who appear to be “craft” but are really owned by the Big Brewers (AB-InBev, Constellation Brands, MillerCoors).

Having pondered the question how to teach consumers who’s who, they think they have come up with a solution. Over the summer, the Guild will introduce a number of items that are designed to help craft breweries identify themselves – not only as independent, but also as members of the SDBG. Read on

USA – Celis brewery re-opens in Austin, Texas

One of Austin’s first craft beer maker, Celis Brewery, is back again, serving its Belgian-style wit beer. What’s more, the brewery is staying in the family, under the command of founder Pierre Celis’ daughter, Christine. A grand opening was scheduled for 11 July 2017.

Mr Celis, a former milkman, is credited with the world-wide popularity of Beglian wit beer, after he started brewing this style of beer in Hoegaarden, Belgium, in the 1960s. When the 300,000 hl Hoegaarden brewery burnt down in 1985 he was forced to sell the company to Stella Artois (later renamed as Interbrew), now AB-InBev. He eventually left for Austin, where he opened the Celis brewery in 1992 with the support of his daughter, and began brewing a wit beer again. But when his backers wanted a quick return on their investment, he was forced to clinch a deal with the Miller Brewing Company in 2000, which had nothing better to do than to close it down in the following year. Mr Celis passed away in 2011, aged 86, and his daughter, Christine, made it her task to revive the brewery and his brand. Read on

Germany – “No patents on beer” campaign: the responses

Following the publication of the article “Protests against patents on brewing barley” on this website in June 2017, we received a rejoinder from someone who should know what this is really all about. The Australian agricultural scientist Dr Evan Evans, a noted barley expert, wrote back saying that patenting of genes that occur naturally is not “quite cricket”.

However,” as he points out, “the patent is on the genes (their sequence) not the barley. Nevertheless, through PBR (Plant Breeders Rights) all current modern varieties are effectively specially patented. PBR although somewhat restrictive is a necessary evil in that the costly exercise in plant breeding can recoup their costs (if successful) from the users (growers, maltsters, brewers and consumers), so that the next generation of plant varieties can be developed. Such a scheme is required where governments have largely left the field in terms of funding of plant breeding for many crops.” Read on

USA – What does Amazon + Whole Foods mean for beer sales?

The news that the internet retailer Amazon was to buy the supermarket chain Whole Foods and its 460+ stores for nearly USD 14 billion made big waves in June 2017.

While the deal should make other grocery chains like Walmart tremble in their socks, not least since they saw their share prices plummet upon publication of the transaction, the implications for the beer business were not immediately clear. Read on


USA – RateBeer mired in technological glitches

As the scandal of AB-InBev secretly buying into RateBeer continues to spread, a statistician took a long hard look at how RateBeer arrives at its Brewer Rating. Guess what did he find? The statistics seem to be suspect.

Paste magazine has the full story and it can be found here. https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/brewer-ratings-on-ratebeer-are-broken--and-they-ha.html

What was discovered after a bit of sleuthing is that AB-InBev’s Brewer Rating somewhat miraculously improved between the autumn of 2016, when AB-InBev bought into RateBeer, and now. It had a rating of 74/100 then, whereas today it stands at 90/100.

A random check on Molson Coors brought to light an even higher score. Its Brewer Rating was 68/100 in October 2016 and has shot up to 93/100 since.

You can follow the mathematical analysis on Paste in detail, but the gist of the matter is that, whereas in AB-InBev’s case the better rating is only improbable, in Molson Coors’ case it’s statistically impossible.

Honi soit qui mal y pense. Read on


USA – That summer feeling: Budweiser’s frogs and Coors’ Zima

Brewers seem to believe that summer makes us feel nostalgic: that previous summers were always better than the one happening now. The memories are really fun to talk about. But now we can stop sharing memories. We can go and buy the real thing.

In the US, MillerCoors has relaunched Zima. Remember Zima, the tipple of youthful regrets? Back in the 1990s, the clear malt alcoholic beverage was a staple on grocery shelves, spawning me-toos like Australia’s Sub Zero, but by 2008 it had died the death.

Cleverly, MillerCoors has brought the drink back for a limited time. It will disappear at the end of summer on Labor Day (4 September). Read on


Netherlands – Heineken in a PR spat over its Desperados brand

The silly season must be upon us or why would the Mexican Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) threaten to sue Heineken over its Desperados lager now? The tequila flavoured Desperados beer has been around for 20 years, having been developed by the Heineken-owned Fischer brewery in France in the 1990s.

Obviously, the CRT is picking a fight over the meaning of “tequila flavoured”. As they see it, Heineken is using the protected name of the spirit on a product that contains none. The CRT argues, either Heineken takes the word tequila off its Desperados branding or puts some tequila into the bottles. If Heineken refuses, the CRT feel they will have no choice but to fight this in court. Incidentally, the CRT is not demanding any financial compensation from Heineken, media say.

The Desperados issue must have galled the CRT for some time but it was the high cost of international legal action that has previously held it back. Read on


UK – BBPA publishes wish list for Brexit negotiations

With the Brexit talks now underway, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has come out in its support for the approach outlined by leading industry groups, to ensure that, alongside the brewing and pub industry’s existing priorities, robust transitional arrangements are in place as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. The BBPA welcomes the government’s negotiation emphasis on putting the economy first and the need to maintain frictionless customs arrangements. Read on


Germany – AB-InBev kicks off sale of Hasseröder and Diebels

It was only a matter of time, after some obscure hints, before AB-InBev would kick off the process of selling its German beer brands Hasseröder and Diebels.

According to several media sources, the world’s number one brewer has sent out information packages to prospective bidders and has asked for first bids before the summer break, which means July.

The brands, which are only sold in Germany, could fetch several hundred million euros, insiders say. Read on


USA – Molson Coors to distribute Heineken’s Sol beer in US

Aha! Is this the first step towards the much discussed closer cooperation between Heineken and Molson Coors, at least in the US? In early June 2017, Molson Coors announced that it signed a 10-year import deal which allows the number two brewer in the US to import, market and distribute the Heineken-owned Mexican beer brand Sol, beginning this autumn. Read on



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