Posted October 2018
Canada – Legal supply of cannabis will lag demand for years
The good news is: Canada’s cannabis companies are worth billions of dollars and US brewer Constellation Brands can feel smug about its timely investment in Canopy Growth.
The bad news is: It could take years before the legal supply of cannabis will meet demand.
Canada became the first large country to legalise cannabis for recreational use on 17 October 2018. As of now, punters are within the law if they consume fresh or dried cannabis and cannabis oil. What is more, they can also grow at home up to four plants.
The government set 18 as the minimum legal age for smoking weed, whereas some provinces have put the smoking age higher. Read on
India – Top brewers investigated over price-fixing allegations
India’s anti-trust watchdog raided the offices of Heineken-controlled United Breweries, Carlsberg and AB-InBev on 11 October 2018 as part of an investigation of price-fixing allegations, Reuters news agency reported.
United Breweries is India’s major brewer with a market share in excess of 50 percent. AB-InBev is estimated to control a quarter followed by Carlsberg at 17 percent.
As is often the case, the watchdog was tipped off by one of the three companies after it filed a leniency application with the regulator, revealing details of the alleged price fixing. Who could it have been, we wonder? Read on
Italy – Craft brewers launch independence seal
Independence seals are gaining ground around the world. During EurHop Rome Beer Festival, Unionbirrai, which represents Italian craft brewers, introduced a seal which is to protect true Italian craft and independent breweries. The news was shared by other craft brewers’ associations, including the IBA of Australia.
In just over twenty years more than 700 independent craft breweries have appeared in the Italian beer market. For beer lovers, these must have been the most exciting years in Italian brewing history. Read on
Germany – European Patent Office partly upholds two controversial barley patents
The European Patent Office (EPO) in early October 2018 has upheld two patents on three brewing barleys, granted to both Heineken and Carlsberg in 2016, but they will be reduced in scope. As an EPO spokesperson told media, there is no longer the possibility of patenting features that are “of natural origin”. Therefore, there is now a “limited scope of protection”. However, the spokesperson was unable to explain exactly what is restricted by the patent.
Over 30 NGOs and a host of privately-owned Austrian brewers had lodged complaints with the EPO against the patents, arguing that they have in fact been granted for a natural mutation, induced by chemical stimuli, as they occur in conventional breeding. Read on
USA – Craft brewers cut down on SKUs in supermarkets
After the euphoria comes the hangover. The number of beer SKUs, or stock-keeping units, has been in decline since February 2018 and will continue to trend down, until higher performers are left that are generating more sales and profits for distributors as well as retailers. This is the finding of a report by Consumer Edge Research. Total active SKUs in beer dipped below 12,000 in February and have continued to decline throughout the year. This decline comes after at least five years of consistent growth of beer SKUs, driven primarily by the explosion of craft beer. Read on
Finland – Book review: “Päntsdrunk” or drinking at home alone in your underwear
What do we know about the Finns, except that they like to tango, sauna and spend their summers at lakes infested with killer mosquitos? That’s about it, or? Little did we know that the Finns have beaten a path to relaxation which only involves a pair of warm socks, internet access, a few cold ones and bags of crisps. To reach the Finnish Zen state of mind, you don’t need to book yourself into an expensive ashram where alcohol is forbidden and all you get to eat is unappetisingly vegan. All it takes is to read Miska Rantanen’s delightful, politically incorrect book and teach yourself this wholly egalitarian practice.
“Päntsdrunk” is actually an Anglificiation of the Finnish word “kalsarikänni”, a compound noun of “kalsari” (underwear) and “känni” (state of inebriation). At its simplest, päntsdrunk means drinking beer in one’s underwear at home while watching cat videos. The point is total relaxation. Oh, and everyone is allowed to join in. “It is the little person’s justifiable, environmentally harmless way of cherry-picking the best of what life has to offer,” the author says.
To Americans – and presumably countless others – the concept of päntsdrunk sounds sad and lonely, if not a sure path to alcoholism. Not to the Finns. They see a solitary drink at home in your skivvies, while going through a three-course meal of popcorn, pizza and ice cream, as a form of self-care. The goal is turning off the outside world while keeping all your senses. It’s not about getting blitzed or worse, falling off the sofa only to wake up with your face in a pool of vomit.
The book comes with a warning: If you feel like päntsdrunk every day, you’ve got a problem and you should seek professional help.
Obviously, “Päntsdrunk” is a parody of all those self-help books which have mostly failed to give readers the results they have been looking for. But at the same time, it makes a sober argument in favour of beer as a beverage of moderation that can be enjoyed at home, alone, on your own sofa without feeling guilty or ashamed.
If anything, “Päntsdrunk” is an enjoyable and beautifully produced book for those who want to spend an evening at home in their own company – with the TV and internet off.
Miska Rantanen, “Päntsdrunk: The Finnish Path to Relaxation”, New York, Harper Design. Price on Amazon: USD 12.81.
USA – Beer industry groups: “Beer shaming needs to end”
The three biggest beer trade organisations – the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), the Brewers Association (BA), and the Beer Institute (BI) – launched their “Beer Growth Initiative” on 24 September 2018, in an effort to fight against beer’s dwindling market share in the face of other alcoholic beverages.
It is a type of generic marketing for beer and it does not come too soon. Data from the US Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) show that between 2002 and 2017, beer’s share of the alcohol market has dropped to 46 percent from 54 percent, while wine has jumped to 37 percent from 30 percent, and spirits have ticked up to 17 percent from 16 percent. Read on
Belgium – Will AB InBev end up reducing its dividend?
More and more observers appear concerned by AB-InBev’s high level of dividend payout. As they see it, this prevents the world’s biggest brewer from cutting its debt load quickly. Already, AB-InBev’s debt load has put pressure on its share price. It has already lost a fifth of its value since the beginning of the year.
In early October 2018, the rating agency Moody’s expressed its concern. The rating agency maintained its rating on AB-InBev’s senior debt at A3 but decided to place it on negative watch. Read on
USA – Diageo launches GoT-inspired White Walker scotch
First, you got Game of Thrones beer (by Ommegang brewery). Then you got Game of Thrones wine. Now, spirits company Diageo and HBO have partnered on a new scotch dedicated to the humanoid creatures. The spirit, dubbed White Walker by Johnnie Walker, is “inspired by the most enigmatic and feared characters in the show,” Diageo said in early October when launching the tipple.
According to Diageo, “at the heart of this new, innovative blend are single malts from Cardhu and Clynelish – one of Scotland’s most northern distilleries, where whiskies have endured long Scottish winters, not dissimilar to the climate north of the wall.” Read on
Russia – AB-InBev Efes loses two brands and 1 percent market share
The loss of Miller Genuine Draft and Staropramen might cost AB-InBev Efes about 1 percent in market share, Russian media report. Before the end of the year the licensing contract between Molson Coors and AB-InBev Efes for the two brands in Russia will come to an end. Instead, Molson Coors decided to transfer the Russian licenses to Heineken. A long-term contract was signed in September 2018. Such is the promiscuity or flexibility of brewers that AB-InBev Efes will continue to brew MGD and Staropramen in the Ukraine.Read on
USA – Independence? Lagunitas’ full integration into the Heineken system
Don’t trust promises of “nothing changes”. In September 2018, Heineken-owned craft brewer Lagunitas not only announced a major round of redundancies affecting over 100 employees, it also will soon be brewing Heineken-owned Newcastle Brown Ale at its Petaluma and Chicago facilities, US media report.
The UK brand has been moved around a bit within the Heineken empire. At the end of 2017 production of Newcastle Brown Ale was permanently moved from the John Smith’s brewery in the UK to Heineken’s brewery in Zoeterwoude, The Netherlands, in order to improve service levels and allow for faster transportation to the United States. The recent decision means that it will no longer be imported but brewed domestically.Read on
Germany – Holsten brewery’s move to new site delayed again
Fearing teething problems at its new plant will impact sales, Germany’s Holsten brewery has delayed again relocating production from its current downtown Altona/Hamburg site to its new location on the outskirts.
Initially, the Holsten brewery, which is owned by Carlsberg, was to pack up and move earlier this year. Then the new brewery was to go on-stream in March 2019. In September 2018 it was finally announced that Holsten will only start brewing at its new site in November 2019.Read on
United Kingdom – Brewers BrewDog and Scofflaw caught in “idiotic” PR disaster
Beware of Twitter, where a few followers can force a humiliating show of apologies. A recent offer of free beer by Scofflaw to supporters of US President Trump in the UK sparked an international kerfuffle within hours of posting.
After a Twitter mob cried foul, Scottish craft brewery BrewDog was forced to cancel a series of planned events at its UK bars with its US counterpart Scofflaw for the weekend of 29-30 September 2018.
For its part, Atlanta-based craft brewer Scofflaw claimed that the offer was made by its UK agency Frank PR without its knowledge, which in turn forced Frank to announce it had suspended the rogue employee who had put out the post without anybody’s approval.
The whole ruckus – fishy as it sounds – may have put an end to the friendship between BrewDog and Scofflaw as BrewDog felt compelled to send all of Scofflaw’s beer back. Read on
USA – Lagunitas to cut more than 100 jobs
Lagunitas Brewing, the fifth-ranking US craft brewer, is laying off 12 percent of its staff, blaming a softening US craft beer market. The brewer was bought by Heineken in two tranches in 2015 and 2017 for allegedly USD 1 billion. It sold over 1 million hl beer in 2017. According to US media, the redundancies will affect all departments and all locations, including its headquarters in Petaluma, California, its Chicago production plant, and its Seattle taproom. The majority of the layoffs, more than 100, will take place in Petaluma. Read on
USA – Coke rumoured to plot entering into the cannabis beverage market
It was only a matter of time before Coke would show an interest in the cannabis market. Brewers like Molson Coors and Constellation Brands have already declared their interest in the billion dollar industry. According to a report by Bloomberg in September 2018, Coke is weighing its cannabis options as a possible alternative to its sugary drinks, which are becoming more and more discredited by consumers. Read on
Australia – Local botanicals and flavours help drive South Australia’s gin trend
Everybody is talking about gin. And drinking it, too. On a recent visit to Adelaide, I was taken to Ambleside Distillers in Hahndorf, a tourist town about 20 minutes by car away from Adelaide.
It was Friday lunchtime when four young women arrived. Call me naïve, but I assumed they had come to enjoy some snacks and the view from the tasting room before they would pick up their kids from school. My friends chided me for being so old-fashioned. These days dads also do the school run, I was told. And sure enough, their gin cocktails soon started arriving and a good time was had by all.
Like many craft distilleries, Ambleside is a family affair. It was founded by parents Steve and Trudy Dickson and their son Matt and his partner Bella last year. The story goes that Matt lived in London a decade ago just when gin was becoming an on-trend thing there. Upon returning to Hahndorf he persuaded his parents to set up a small-batch gin distillery. That Matt’s parents are in on this venture is typical of craft distilling. They are probably “still changers” – mid or late career people looking to change to something they want to do or, having retired early with a large superannuation fund, wanting to do something purposeful.
Cleverly, they called their distillery Ambleside. Most people in Adelaide will remember the origins of this name. Though founded by German settlers in the early 19th century, Hahndorf was renamed Ambleside during World War I following strong anti-German sentiments. However, it was changed back to Hahndorf in 1935 as part of South Australia’s centenary celebrations.
At Ambleside they distil three different types of gin. The Big Dry Gin is a classic dry gin style with jalapeno. The No. 8 Botanical Gin showcases South Australian oranges and classic botanicals. The Small Acre Gin has 12 ingredients including some produce from their distillery garden. A Gin&Tonic made with Small Acre Gin was served with a twig of thyme, which I thought a nice touch. Read on
United Kingdom – Gin craze and Fever-Tree mixers: never one without the other
“If three quarters of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best,” is the argument tonic water brand Fever-Tree wants you to believe. Because if you do, spending a small fortune on what is basically a soft drink by another name will not hurt you.
Ever since Fever-Tree’s mixers appeared on London’s bar scene in 2005, it has divided consumers into those who see it as a much-needed disruptor of the beverage market, and those who think it is a marketing con to convince us all to pay more for a staple we have been using for more than a century. Read on
United Kingdom – Dr Tim Cooper appointed IBD President
The boss of Coopers Brewery has been appointed President of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD), the brewing and distilling industries’ largest global body. Dr Tim, as he is called, is Managing Director of the largest Australian-owned beer company, located in Adelaide.
Dr Cooper is a fifth generation Cooper, with the unusual combination of qualifications in brewing and medicine. He completed his medical studies (MBBS, Adelaide) in 1979 and practised hospital medicine for seven years, working mainly in the UK as a registrar in medicine and cardiology. In 1986-87 he took time off medicine to study brewing science (MSc, Birmingham). Before returning to Australia to join the family brewery, he received a doctorate in medicine in 1990 for research in cardiopulmonary medicine.
At Coopers he was first Technical Manager before becoming Operations Manager in 1993. He later completed his MBA and took on the responsibility of Project Director for the design and construction of Coopers’ new brewery at Regency Park, which was opened in 2001.
Dr Cooper will serve a one-year term at the helm of the 5,000-member IBD, having already acted as its Deputy President for a two-year term. Read on