From diversity at CBC to a brewery-led market hall with pet groomers, here are some happenings and announcements from around the industry. By BIG Staff
Researchers: High Costs Require Creative Solutions from the Brewing Industry.
Beverage analysts at Rabobank say that more inflationary pressures are yet to come for brewers. In its Rabobank Beer Quarterly, the researchers say that the beer industry faces a conundrum: Input costs are rising, but so are the inflationary pressures on beer drinkers—thus, simply raising prices could do more harm to beer sales than usual. Complicating the problem is the assessment that some of the inflationary pressures are not temporary “and will not disappear in the foreseeable future,” says beverages analyst Francois Sonneville. The recommendation is to explore a range of options, such as cost-cutting, adjustments to packaging mix, and hedging, as well as pricing. However, the report says, “accepting some level of margin compression may be necessary, or even advisable.” The full report is available to Rabobank clients at research.rabobank.com.
New Injection for Restaurant Revitalization Fund Remains Uncertain.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved $42 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), but its prospects in the Senate are unclear. In Washington, Roll Call reports that Senate Republicans are reluctant to support any new federal spending that isn’t offset by cuts elsewhere. The RRF was part of the American Rescue Plan enacted in March 2021, but the $26.8 billion in grants only went to about one-third of qualified applicants to the program. Businesses eligible for the grants included those that serve a significant amount of food and/or drinks on-site, including bars, brewpubs, and breweries with taprooms. The Independent Restaurant Coalition reports that 52 percent of businesses that applied for but did not receive grants say they will have to close in the next six months without additional support.
New Ideas & Goals for Diversity in Brewing.
The Brewers Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee announced new goals after meeting in late March. They include supporting new breweries led by underrepresented groups, realizing wider demographic representation in the brewing workforce, and continuing to educate and advocate for DEI best practices at breweries. They also include the longer-term goal to become the alcoholic beverage sector with the most demographically representative consumer base. DEI subcommittees now go to work on tangible projects to help realize those goals. Anyone interested in learning more about these goals can attend a special networking event at the Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis. The Opportunity Maker Meet-Up is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT on May 4, in room M100IJ of the Convention Center.
Brewers Association Names Inaugural Mentors of the Year.
The Brewers Association has named the first two recipients of its Mentor of the Year Award: Annette May, a founding faculty member of the Schoolcraft College Brewing and Distillation Technology program in Michigan; and Ramon Tamayo, brewing manager at Magnolia Brewing in San Francisco. The stated goal of the new program is to promote more diversity in the industry by providing “structured mentoring and advocacy to those experiencing barriers to access or advancement.” Since the program launched early last year, the BA says, 86 mentors have guided 86 individuals to develop their knowledge and skills in the beer industry. For more information about the program, including how to apply to be a mentor or participant, see brewersassociation.org.
GABF, World Beer Cup to Get New Competition Director.
Chris Swersey, longtime competition director for the Brewers Association, informed beer judges that he was stepping down and planned to move to Australia. The 2022 World Beer Cup will be the 30th BA competition that Swersey has helped to organize, including 20 Great American Beer Festivals and 10 World Beer Cups. The BA’s senior event manager, Chris Williams, will step into the role of competition director after the WBC; that award ceremony is scheduled for May 5, during the Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis. Swersey says Williams is the “ultimate professional.” “Chris and I have worked closely together for 13 years, and he is fluent in the internal workings of the competitions. His IT acumen, integrity, excellent knowledge of beer styles, … and of the inner workings of our competitions, are top-notch.”
Fresh Data on Demand for Direct Beer Shipping.
The Brewers Association and Sovos ShipCompliant in March released the results of their second annual Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Beer Shipping Report. The report is based on a survey conducted in January of more than 1,900 people who were 21 or older, about 29 percent of whom say they drink craft beer at least once per month. Among the report’s key findings: Of those regular craft drinkers, 92 percent say they would like to order beer to their homes every month, while 68 percent say they would spend $50 or more per month on such deliveries. About 96.7 percent of U.S. adults over age 21 has access to DTC shipping of wine; however, due to restrictive state laws, just 14.8 percent have access to DTC shipping of beer. The full report is available by request at sovos.com/shipcompliant.
Drekker Shares New Details on Brewhalla Market Hall Plans.
Drekker Brewing in Fargo, North Dakota—known especially for heavily fruited beers such as its Braaaaaaaains series—announced several of the businesses that will be part of its Brewhalla market hall development, a planned “food and entertainment wonderland.” Offerings include wood-fired pizza, a wine bar, coffee shop, gelato, cheese, pottery, plants, and pet grooming. “We’re building a whole new neighborhood where people can enjoy shopping at creative local stores, share outstanding food from some of Fargo’s best restaurants, and come together as a community in a space that is constantly activated with events and energy,” says Mark Bjornstad, president of Drekker and Brewhalla. Drekker expects to open Brewhalla late this year.
D.C. Gets a New-Old Lager Brand.
In the nation’s capital, DC Brau in early April launched a nostalgia beer brand called Old Time Lager, described as a “modern interpretation of the Hopfheiser Brewing Company’s American light lager from 1935,” which was brewed in Baltimore. The brand apparently aims to stand on its own: Old Time’s website and promo materials make no mention of DC Brau or being brewed there. Old Time is one of several old lager brands that have been resurrected by independent breweries in various parts of the country. Locally, for example, Old Time will be competing with Senate Beer, brewed by Right Proper Brewing.
D.C. Also Gets Its ChurchKey Back.
The popular Washington, D.C., beer bar ChurchKey reopened to the public on April 20 for the first time since closing for the pandemic in 2020, when the Neighborhood Restaurant Group streamlined hospitality operations and leaned into to a home-delivery model. The bar’s first event was a tap takeover on April 20 by Fidens Brewing of Colonie, New York. ChurchKey regularly places at or near the top of the Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® Best in Beer Reader’s Choice poll for best bars in the United States.
Lallemand Launches Smartphone App for Brewers
The yeast company Lallemand Brewing has released a new app with various tools for brewers, including specialized calculators for yeast-pitching rates, bottle-conditioning, caloric content, and titratable acidity. The LalBrew app is available in English, French, and Spanish in the Google Play and Apple stores. Besides the calculators, it also includes a Lallemand product catalog and a tool for selecting the right yeast strain for a beer.
NA Beer Supports Women Brewers.
Athletic Brewing announced the launch of a nonalcoholic helles, Trailblazer, to honor and support women in the brewing industry. The beer includes hops from the annual Pink Boots hop blend from Yakima Chief. Athletic says that 100 percent of profits from Trailblazer go to nonprofits that support women in beer, such as the Pink Boots Society, Ladies Who Launch, and the Women’s International Beer Summit.
Beer Marketing Awards to Announce Winners.
The Craft Beer Marketing Awards (CBMAs) plans to announce the 2022 winners live on its Facebook page at 4 p.m. ET on April 28. It will also announce the winners of the most popular categories at the Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis at 7:30 p.m. CT on May 4. The CBMAs says its judge panel includes more than 500 industry professionals from around the globe.
Brewers Association Adds Two to Lobbying Team.
The Brewers Association announced in March that it had hired Nancy Palmer, previously with the Georgia Chamber, and Sam DeWitt, previously of the Colorado nonprofit Compassion & Choices. The BA says that both will support the association’s legislative efforts in multiple states, working in cooperation with state guilds and breweries.
Stone Wins Trademark Suit with Molson Coors.
A jury awarded Stone Brewing $56 million in damages in a trademark-infringement trial. In early 2018, Stone sued MillerCoors—now Molson Coors—over its branding campaign that advertised and sold Keystone beer as simply “Stone.” Stone asked for $216 million in damages; the jury ruled that the infringement was not purposeful. “They will put the ‘Key’ back in ‘Keystone,’ ending their hostile four-year co-op of the Stone name,” Stone cofounder Greg Koch said after the ruling.
Pabst to Open Facility for THC Drinks in California.
Pabst Labs, makers of the THC-infused Pabst Blue Ribbon High Seltzers, announced in March that they plan to open a new plant and distribution center dedicated to cannabis beverages in Desert Hot Springs, California. The company says the plant will allow them to triple their capacity for producing THC-based drinks.
Tröegs Breaks Ground on Packaging Expansion.
In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Tröegs says it recently broke ground on a 15,000-square-foot expansion of its packaging hall, which will include a new state-of-the-art canning line. The brewery expects installation to be completed later this year. Tröegs also is adding about 100 additional parking spaces for visitors.
Dogfish Head and Patagonia Join for Cross-Promo Pils
The outdoor clothing company Patagonia says it is partnering with Delaware’s Dogfish Head on “a more environmentally friendly pilsner.” Kernza Pils is made with the perennial Kernza grain, which is trademarked by the Land Institute. Perennial grains are viewed as more environmentally sustainable than annual grains, being better at carbon sequestration, preventing soil erosion, and more.
Do you have industry news to share? Contact managing editor Joe Stange at [email protected]