Beer Monopoly





    International Reports











USA – Website RateBeer compromised by AB-InBev ownership stake

Now it becomes clearer why the website Beer Studs called for a boycott of crafty brands as well as websites that review those beers.

It has since transpired (2 June 2017) that AB-InBev, through its “global incubator” ZX Ventures, purchased a minority stake in RateBeer.

Founded in 2000, RateBeer is an online beer community and one of the most widely read ratings site. Many beer drinkers regard it as an objective source of online beer ratings. RateBeer also hosts an annual awards ceremony and festival in Santa Rosa.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Let’s assume that it was not a zillion-dollar deal. However, it underlines how deeply AB-InBev has penetrated the craft beer industry: from craft breweries and homebrew supplies, to craft beer blogs October and The Beer Necessities as well as a ratings site. Read on


Germany – Protests against patents on brewing barley

With horse-drawn beer carriages, oompah music and free beer about 100 activists protested on 7 June 2017 outside the European Patent Office in Munich against a patent on barley. According to the Munich-based alliance “No Patents on Seeds”, both Heineken and Carlsberg lay claims to the proprietorship of a certain brewing barley, the resulting brewing process and the finished product. As they say, the barley originated from accidental mutations of genetic material.

The two brewing companies have already received two patents on barley varieties. The third patent, granted in 2016, is a cross of the two barleys.

Activists argue that the patents are blatantly absurd as accidental mutations cannot be considered inventions. They campaign against the privatisation of food plants, be they brewing barley, rice or wheat. Read on


Germany – Beer as art at documenta show in Kassel

This is not a beer on sale at an art show, it literally is a piece of art. Made specifically for documenta 14, one of the most important shows for contemporary art, Sufferhead stout was conceived by the Nigeria-born artist Emeka Ogboh.

In his art, Mr Ogboh, 40, explores how private, public, and collective memories and historiographies are translated or transformed into sound and sonority.

For his latest art project, Sufferhead, he did research on migration, working on the question what we leave behind or take with us. In interviews with Africans in Germany, Mr Ogboh collated their gustatory experiences as taste shapes a culture too. Migrants’ nutrition reflects to what extent they have assimilated into a new culture, to what extent they have maintained their roots, in short, it shows what migrants gain, lose or have to do without.

These issues are at the core of Mr Ogboh’s art. But this time, rather than translating the collected gustatory experiences into sound, he created a beer recipe from which the black Sufferhead is brewed.

It is a craft beer because Mr Ogboh, who now lives in Germany, has been fascinated by the idea of creating an individual beer. However, Mr Ogboh decided to add chili to his 8.2 percent ABV stout after having spoken to Ethiopians, Somalians and Eritreans in Kassel, who shared their experiences with him. That Sufferhead chili stout breaches the German Beer Purity Law is probably intentional: both politically and artistically.

Documenta in Kassel runs from 10 June until 17 September 2017. Whether the 50,000 bottles of Sufferhead will last that long, remains to be seen. After all, how many art works can you drink?


USA – Slower growth for craft beer sales – yet again

While insiders are still debating which factors contributed to craft beer’s mid-single digit increase in 2016, news has come in that in 2017 growth could be even slimmer.

Volume sales of craft beer rose only 2.5 percent from January through May, according to market-research firm IRI Worldwide. Bigger craft brewers, including Stone and Lagunitas, have seen sales rise, but Boston Beer, Craft Brew Alliance and Gambrinus were among those reporting sales drops over the same period. Most likely, the proliferation of craft breweries has started eating into the bigger craft brewers’ sales.

Making matters worse, that strange breed, the beer consumer, is seemingly losing his appetite for the stronger brews which, let’s not forget, boosted the rise of craft beer in the first place. Read on


UK – Across the globe people are drinking less alcohol

Public health advocates will cheer the latest data from the International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR), a London-based firm. The data indicate that consumption of alcoholic drinks is declining at an increasingly faster rate than has been previously reported by other market research companies.

For brewers and distillers, banking on easy growth from rising numbers of youngsters reaching legal drinking age, that’s bad news indeed.

In the past, there was consensus among market analysts that consumption of alcoholic drink closely correlates with the global economy as measured in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That meant, if the economy went up or down, so did the consumption of booze.

Global GDP rose 3.1 percent in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund, which forecasts a further improvement to 3.6 percent this year.

That, allied with the growing global population of legal drinking age consumers, should, theoretically, have led to growing global alcohol consumption, but it did not.

According to the IWSR’s latest data release (30 May 2017), the global market for alcoholic drinks in 2016 shrunk by -1.3 percent, compared with an average rate of just -0.3 percent in the previous five years. The reasons for the accelerated downward trend include a faster decline in beer, a reversal of trends for cider and slowing growth for mixed drinks. Read on


USA – Don’t buy China-made tanks!

America First. Some politicians were irritated that Genesee Brewing Company, a brewery from New York state, might receive state funding while buying tanks from China that could have been produced in New York.

As Genesee’s tanks slowly floated down the waterways to its brewery in Rochester, New York, at the end of May, the angry lawmakers told media that a US company nearby, Syracuse-based Feldmeier Equipment Inc., could have produced the 12 China-made tanks.

But the huffing-and-puffing lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties got their info wrong.

At this stage, Genesee is only eligible for about USD 10 million in grants and tax credits from the Empire State Development fund for its USD 50 million expansion project, but has not received any grants and tax credits yet.

Replying to the underlying accusation of squandering taxpayers’ money to a foreign firm, an Empire State Development spokesman was quoted as saying that none of those state incentives applied to the tank purchases. Genesee’s current expansion project first has to meet specific investment and job creation goals over the next 10 years before it can apply for funds which would go towards future expansions for a restaurant and bar.

Such is the hysteria about America’s foreign trade deficit that Genesee had to justify its purchasing decisions to the media, although they were funded by private money. Read on

USA – Website Beer Studs calls for boycott of AB-InBev-owned craft beers

When the Brewers Association published its list of “crafty” beer brands in 2012, it received a lot of flak for this obvious tactic of blacklisting. Now the beer blog Beer Studs has published what they are calling the “The Cut Off”, which lists all the “impostor” craft beer brands that have been acquired by AB-InBev.

This time round, no one seems to object that Beer Studs is encouraging drinkers to join a boycott. Read on

USA – Sale of Asheville and Fort Collins breweries make waves

Another Asheville craft beer brewery has undergone an ownership change, but this time the sale was not met with outrage, as in the case of Wicked Weed, which was sold to AB-InBev in early May 2017.

A couple with entrepreneurial leanings agreed to purchase French Broad Brewing Co., it was reported on 1 June 2017. Sarah and Paul Casey from Chapel Hill, 350 km to the west of Asheville, were named the new owners of the brewery.

Founded in 2001, French Broad Brewing is one of the oldest breweries in Asheville, North Carolina. It produced about 5,000 hl beer in 2015. But as the city has seen its number of breweries expand over the past decade, French Broad has struggled to keep its brand relevant. A plan to sell French Broad to the Asheville-based Thirsty Monk pub chain fell through. Read on

Denmark – Bang & Olufsen + Mikkeller + music = Beobrew

We know that microbes in sewage plants work more effectively when blasted with Mozart’s music. But does music do wonders for yeast cells too? Embarking on a sort of school science project, the Danish producer of high-end consumer electronics Bang & Olufsen (B&O) teamed up with fellow Danish brewer Mikkeller to create Beobrew – a beer that is infused with music.

As B&O reports, Mikkeller’s brewers lowered a Beoplay A1 speaker into a tank and cranked up the volume during the two-week conditioning process. The result is a refreshing 6.8 percent ABV American style IPA beer that boasts a bright and aromatic taste with citrus fruit and floral notes. Read on

UK – New Camden Town brewery to become operational in July

Camden Town Brewery, the London craft brewery acquired by AB-InBev in December 2015 for about GBP 85 million (USD 128 million), has invested GBP 30 million (USD 38 million) in a new brewing facility in London. It will enable Camden Town to keep pace with increasing demand for its beers, which include its flagship lager, Camden Hells. Read on

UK – Craft beer the new door opener for supermarkets

Tesco is not alone in betting on craft beer. Tapping into the GBP 100 million in annual craft beer sales (2016), the supermarket chain Asda extended its craft beer offering in May by adding over 100 new beers, including several exclusive products. Up to 10 percent of Asda’s beer space will now be dedicated to craft beer, helping introduce more regional beers to areas outside of their locales.

Asda said the new range will offer “quality products at market leading value” whilst giving customers an opportunity to learn more about the craft beer movement through on-shelf material. Read on

Germany – AB-InBev may sell the Hasseröder brand

After several media outlets reported that the sale of the Hasseröder brewery and brand could be imminent, AB-InBev said on 1 June 2017 that it plans to revise Hasseröder’s marketing while not wanting to rule out a sale.

Currently, the fifth-largest German beer brand is struggling in the off-trade, with more than 70 percent of its volume sold on promotion. Hasseröder can therefore no longer escape the general trend of falling beer sales after several years of growth.

But AB-InBev only has itself to blame. Ever since Belgium’s Interbrew bought Hasseröder’s parent, the Gilde brewery group in Hannover for EUR 575 million in 2002, the eastern German brand has witnessed intense price promotions. It has not been unusual to find offers which price 20 litres (or two crates) of Hasseröder for EUR 15.50 (USD 17.00). Read on



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