The Beer Ticker: Maui Bids to Buy Modern Times, and Other News

From HopTea to Howdy Beer, here are some recent news and announcements from across the beer industry.

Brewing Industry Guide Staff May 27, 2022 - 9 min read

The Beer Ticker: Maui Bids to Buy Modern Times, and Other News Primary Image

Garrett Marrero. Photo: Courtesy Maui Brewing.

Amid surging sales for its own brands, Hawaii-based Maui Brewing says it’s bidding to acquire San Diego’s Modern Times Beer. In a news release, Maui cites “wholesale network synergies” and says that Southern California is its second-largest market.

San Diego also is the hometown of Maui founder Garrett Marrero. “While this is just the first step in a long process, we believe in the Modern Times brand and feel it provides a tremendous opportunity for us,” Marrero says in the release. “They have an amazing, dedicated team, and we hope to contribute to the next stage in their journey as a craft brewery.”

Modern Times CEO Jennifer Briggs told Good Beer Hunting earlier this year that the company was reorganizing because of debt and that it would be willing to entertain offers from investors or potential buyers. The brewery closed four taprooms earlier this year, citing fallout from the COVID pandemic and “global declines in the craft-beer industry.” Modern Times founder Jacob McKean stepped down from the CEO position in May 2021 amid multiple employee accounts of a toxic work environment and allegations that management was indifferent to harassment.

As recently as 2020, Modern Times ranked 40th among craft breweries by volume, according to the Brewers Association. Previously unranked Maui appeared at No. 43 in the BA’s most recent listing of top craft breweries by volume.


Boston Beer Launches Cannabis Teas.

Boston Beer says its new TeaPot line of cannabis-infused teas will first become available in Canada, starting in July. TeaPot is the first brand from Boston Beer’s new cannabis subsidiary, BBCCC. The company says the teas will be infused with specific strains of cannabis “to enhance specific times of the day.” The first product to be released is Good Day Iced Tea, a black tea with lemon and Pedro’s Sweet Sativa, an Ontario-grown cultivar. Each 12-ounce can includes 5 mg of THC “and is crafted to minimize any cannabis taste or aroma.” Paul Weaver, head of Boston Beer’s cannabis division, says that the drink “is precisely dosed for social gatherings with friends and family.”

Bruery Founder Buys Heineken’s Half of Moonlight.

In 2016 Brian Hunt—who founded Moonlight Brewing of Santa Rosa, California, in 1992—sold half the brewery to Lagunitas, which is based in Petaluma. Heineken fully took over Lagunitas the following year, but Lagunitas continued to manage Moonlight. However, the 30-year-old brewery starts a new chapter with the May announcement that Bruery founder Patrick Rue has purchased Heineken’s half of Moonlight. Rue, who founded The Bruery in Placentia in 2008, sold his stake to a private equity firm in 2017 and went on to found Erosion Wine in St. Helena. Now, Rue plans to be actively involved at Moonlight and direct its barrel-aging program. Moonlight says the change will allow for patient growth and greater availability of its beers.

New Injection for Hospitality Business Fails in Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved $42 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), but its supporters in the Senate couldn’t muster the 60 votes needed to bring it up for debate last week. As a result, its chances are slim for the rest of the year. Congressional observers report that Senate Republicans were 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 mid-2022 without additional support.

Flying Dog Wins First Amendment Ruling on Steadman Label.

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of Flying Dog of Frederick, Maryland, in its case against North Carolina regulators who banned Freezin’ Season labels for their cartoon depiction of a naked man. Famously, English artist Ralph Steadman—best known for his work in collaboration with Hunter S. Thompson—has been drawing the Flying Dog labels since 1995. In mid-May, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled against the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Commission and its policy allowing it to ban labels that the commissioners deem “undignified, immodest, or in bad taste.” The judges wrote that the state’s argument that, “absent the challenged regulation, children will be ambushed by vulgar and sexually explicit alcoholic beverage labels while ‘shopping for the necessities of life’ with their parents’ rings somewhat hollow in this day and age.”

AB InBev and New Belgium Get New Solar Installations.

Eight of the breweries in AB InBev’s Brewers Collective unit—10 Barrel (Bend, Oregon), Blue Point (Patchogue, New York), Breckenridge (Littleton, Colorado), Devils Backbone (Lexington, Virginia), Four Peaks (Tempe, Arizona), Goose Island (Chicago), Karbach (Houston), and Virtue Cider (Fennville, Michigan)—now have solar energy systems, according to the company that installed them. ForeFront Power says the installations will help AB InBev avoid more than 2 million pounds of CO2 production per year. The solar systems are part of a company-wide commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Asheville, North Carolina, New Belgium also recently completed a solar system installed by Renu Energy Solutions. The installation spans the brewery’s 114,000-square-foot roof and is expected to produce about 620,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

New Industry Group Promotes “the Ultimate Reusable Containers.”

A new association aims to promote the use of steel kegs and the interests of companies that produce and use them. “Most people have never thought of kegs as the ultimate reusable containers.… When you choose draft from steel kegs, you’re making the most sustainable choice by removing single-use packages from recycling and landfill streams,” says Dan Vorlage, the new group’s executive director and VP of global marketing for MicroStar Logistics. Launched in April, the founding members of the Steel Keg Association are major suppliers, shippers, and manufacturers of kegs.

NZ Hops Launches Hop-Oil Extracts in North America.

A partnership between NZ Hops and British extract producer Totally Natural Solutions is making New Zealand hop-oil available in North America for the first time. The companies say that their HopInspiration range of concentrated hop-oil extracts provides an efficient option for aroma boost during dry-hopping. Source varieties include Kohatu, Moutere, Nectaron, Rakau, Taiheke, Waimea, and Wai-iti.

Breakside Tops Oregon Beer Awards.

Portland’s Breakside Brewery took home the largest haul from the 2022 Oregon Beer Awards, announced in April, winning 11 medals plus Large Brewery of the Year. This year there were 123 participating breweries, which entered more than 1,200 beers in all. Other big winners included 10 Barrel with seven medals; Wayfinder with five medals plus Best Brewpub Experience; and pFriem Family Brewers with five medals, including the third gold medal in a row for pFriem Pilsner.

Stem Ciders Acquires Howdy Beer Brand.

Post Chicken & Beer’s Howdy Beer lager, which won GABF medals in 2014 and 2018, has been acquired by Stem Ciders with plans for wider national distribution. Big Red F Restaurant Group, based in Boulder, Colorado, owns Post Chicken & Beer—a Lafayette institution featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives—and The Post Brewing Company. Big Red F will remain involved as a partner as Stem Ciders more widely distributes the beer, to be brewed at the Sleeping Giant contract brewery in Denver. Stem distributes its ciders in 22 states, while Howdy will first launch in Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.