April 2021

USA – Constellation takes impairment charge on Mexicali brewery

Constellation Brands is finding itself in an awkward situation with no easy way out. In March 2020, Mexicali residents, in a referendum, rejected the completion of the 10 million hl brewery at a cost of more than USD 1 billion, which Constellation had already partly built. Since then, construction activities have been stopped. Although the Mexicali brewery was to provide much needed capacity, Constellation managed to squeeze out more volumes from its other breweries at Nava and Obregon.

Singapore – ThaiBev shelves plans for IPO

Given the worsening covid pandemic, ThaiBev, one of southeast Asia’s major brewers, announced that it is postponing its plans to sell a 20 percent stake in its regional beer business via a Singapore listing. The spin-off was to be the largest initial public offering (IPO) in the city-state in nearly a decade. It was scheduled for mid-2021. Reuters had reported earlier that the IPO of what was to be called BeerCo could raise about USD 2 billion.

USA – Molson Coors buys into gang-staffed TRU Colors brewery

It is a social experiment of sorts. TRU Colors, a start-up brewery from Wilmington, North Carolina, which hopes to stop street violence and unite communities by employing gang members, is getting a boost from Molson Coors. As was announced on 14 April 2021, Molson Coors took a minority stake in TRU Colors, and will assist the firm in its distribution strategy and business development. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Belgium – AB-InBev forced to dump millions of litres of beer

AB-InBev, the world’s major brewer, in early April, had to dispose of millions of litres of beer into the River Meuse from its brewery in Jupille, near Liege. The beer was brewed six months ago and packaged in kegs. Unfortunately, along came the lockdown of the hospitality sector, which will not ease before 1 May at the earliest, by which time the beer will have expired.

United Kingdom – Beer does not do well on Dragons’ Den

So now we know: Dragons’ Den, a TV reality show, which has been aired by the BBC since 2006, is not the format to pitch beery ideas to investors. Beer entrepreneurs Jason Clarke and Charlie Craig left the Dragons’ Den empty-handed on 8 April 2021. The pair pitched their Gen!us low-calorie lager at the television investors, in search of GBP 120,000 (USD 170,000) for a 4 percent stake in their Glasgow-based business. But they were criticised for over-valuing their venture and failed to persuade the dragons to part with their cash.

Ireland – Beer consumption down 17 percent in 2020

Covid-19 has significantly impacted the drinks industry, as a result of the closure of the hospitality sector. Per capita alcohol consumption declined by 6.6 percent last year. The beer and cider categories were hit hardest, as both are predominantly consumed in pubs. Beer consumption dropped 17 percent last year, while cider consumption fell by 11 percent in 2020.

USA – Coca-Cola CEO wants Congress to act after Georgia’s voting law

Republicans passed and signed Georgia’s new voting law on 25 March 2021, which is aimed at scaling back early voting and other options that became popular during the pandemic. The law has angered critics, starting with Democrats, civil rights groups and, most recently, large corporations who were compelled to wade into the matter after a wave of backlash.

Canada – Second beer tax increase during pandemic riles brewers

No joke. On 1 April 2021 the government’s excise tax on beer was increased for the fifth time in four years, and the second time during the pandemic. This increase will place additional stress on struggling bars and restaurants, as well as the 149,000 Canadians whose jobs are supported by the production and sale of beer, Beer Canada, a trade group, said.

Mexico – President opposes beer and milk production in arid areas

A populist to the core, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador slammed the production of beer and milk in areas where there is not enough water. In 2020, the populist president already cancelled plans for Constellation’s new 10 million hl brewery on Mexico’s northern border, and on 29 March 2021 he questioned the whole idea of producing beer for export. “How can we have beer breweries in the north? How can we produce beer for export? What are we exporting? Water. We do not have water in the north,” Mr López Obrador was quoted as saying.

South Africa – Brewers condemn government’s halt on alcohol sales

It was another blow to the country’s brewers that the government decided to curtail alcohol sales over the Easter weekend – especially as they were only given two days’ notice. The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) criticised the decision, saying it is “unnecessary” and has “no valid basis”.

Nigeria – Pay boost for NB directors as dividend falls to 15-year low

Nigerian Breweries, the country’s major brewer and 56 percent owned by Heineken, scaled up the remuneration of its top management by at least 25.2 percent last year. This came despite the covid pandemic battering its business and slashing its profit by more than half, the website Premium Times reports. The firm’s board raised the directors’ renumeration to NGN 702 million (USD 1.9 million) from the NGN 561 million it paid in 2019, the financial statement shows.

USA – Craft brewers sold 9 percent less beer in 2020

For once the doom-mongers were wrong. Restrictions to prevent the spread of covid-19 in 2020 did not force thousands of craft brewers out of business, The Brewers Association (BA) revealed on 8 April 2021. Although the BA recorded 346 closings in 2020, another 716 hopefuls took the jump, bringing the total number of US craft brewers up to over 8,700.

United Kingdom – Glorious Day

From 12 April, restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve customers again outdoors. They will then be given the go-ahead to offer indoor seating from 17 May, provided they meet specific covid-19 conditions. Restrictions are due to be totally relaxed by 21 June 2021. The great alfresco April reopening of pubs received a boost when the government said it was slashing red tape to allow pubs and bars to put up marquees without having to apply for planning permission. UK media had revealed that landlords were facing demands to pay hundreds of pounds in fees to town halls for additional planning and licensing permits.

United Kingdom – Number of breweries rises to 3,000

It is hard to believe, but more than 200 new breweries opened in the UK last year, despite the devastating impact of the coronavirus on Britain’s hospitality sector, according to new research by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young. Per its research, published in March 2021, numbers grew by 216 (or 7.5 percent) to just over 3,000 breweries in 2020, even though pubs were shut for 44 percent of trading days, due to social distancing restrictions.

United Kingdom – The longest case of beer

At 2.3 metres in length, North Brewing Company, a brewery from Leeds, delivered the UK’s longest cases of lager on 12 March 2021. The case contained 99 cans with enough beer to fill a bathtub. The longpack of Springwell Pils is ideal for social distancing, the brewery said. It weighs more than 40 kg (88 lb), so it takes two people to deliver it in the company’s van – and probably two more to carry it inside punters’ homes. The idea for the longest case of beer came about when North Brewing had a brainstorm as to how to celebrate the opening of its new brewery in Springwell, Leeds. The pils is named after the brewery.

United Kingdom – CAMRA: 50 years on

Had it not been for the pandemic, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) would have celebrated its 50th anniversary with a great number of live events. After all, it has created life-changing experiences for its 180,000 members across the country. Its achievements are all the more remarkable when you consider that it is truly a grassroots organisation, says Laura Hadland, the author of the book “50 Years of CAMRA”. Despite having no commercial backing, CAMRA has brought huge change to a multi-billion pound industry for the benefit of the consumer.

USA – Hard seltzers: a gift to the brewing industry

Hard seltzers are among the fastest-growing categories within the beer, spirits and wine category, and should continue growing in the double digits this year, AB-InBev’s North American chief Michel Doukeris said on 17 March 2021 on CNBC.

USA – Diageo buys maker of Texan Lone River ranch water

Good grief – what is ranch water? By all accounts it is a hard seltzer that takes its inspiration from a popular Texan highball cocktail, which is mixed with lime juice, tequila, and Topo Chico, a brand of sparkling mineral water from Mexico. Lone River Ranch Water was launched in 2019 by Katie Beal Brown, but she only brought her products to market in May 2020.