Report: No Apparent Relief from Rising Costs on Horizon
There is no immediate relief in sight for brewers facing various cost pressures because of inflation, Rabobank says in its latest Beer Quarterly report. While many breweries have focused on cutting and controlling costs rather than raising prices, sustained inflation may lead them to rethinking that strategy, the report suggests. Meanwhile, although U.S. beer volume has remained flat for many years, beer continues to lose share to wine and spirits. Another tidbit from the report: The post-pandemic on-premise recovery appears to have stalled out at about 90 percent of what it was pre-COVID. “Considering the U.S. had broadly been moving away from on-premise prior to the pandemic, we don’t expect a return in the short term,” the report says.
BrewDog Gambles on Vegas Strip Expansion
Scotland-based BrewDog announced that it is opening a branded brewpub on the strip in Las Vegas, with an opening celebration scheduled for the weekend of December 2. The bar features 30,000 square feet, 96 taps, and a 10-barrel brewhouse. The company says a raffle will include a $1 million bar tab, redeemable at any BrewDog bar around the world in the next 20 years. BrewDog also says it’s planning to open a pub in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, one of three Denver locations planned in the next four years. A BrewDog bar also recently opened in Atlanta. BrewDog’s U.S. expansion is ongoing even as BrewDog tries to shake accusations from at least 300 current and former employees that its founders fostered a culture of fear and harassment and engaged in deceptive practices.
Illinois Scholarship for Diversity in Brewing
The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild is accepting applications for its second annual Illinois Diversity in Brewing Scholarship. The scholarship for underrepresented groups in the brewing industry goes toward brewing courses at the Siebel Institute of Technology. The deadline to apply is November 19. For more info or to apply, see illinoisbeer.org.
De Ranke to Brew Bink
A legacy brand of Belgian independent brewing has found a new home. The beers of the former Brouwerij Kerkom of Sint-Truiden will now be brewed at De Ranke in Dottignies, Belgian news outlets reported recently. Kerkom’s bitter, pleasantly hop-forward Bink Blond was an influential beer in Belgium’s own craft-brewing renaissance of the ’80s and ’90s. The Kerkom brewery has been out of service since 2009, with brewer Marc Limet contracting at other breweries to keep the beers going. However, the agreement with De Ranke represents a more permanent home at a highly regarded brewery.
CO2 Troubles, also in Belgium
Brouwerij Huyghe—makers of Delirium Tremens, Mongozo Coconut, and many other brands—says it recently faced the prospect of closing when its gas supplier, Nippon Gases Europe, informed the brewery that its CO2 bill would increase from €375,000 to €5 million, according to CEO Alain De Laet, quoted in local news reports. Citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ongoing supply-chain problems, Nippon Gases invoked a force majeure clause to dramatically raise prices despite contracts with its customers. In the short-term, the East Flanders brewery successfully won a court order to suspend the price hike and continue to operate. However, the situation is an example of the challenges to come with shortages in Europe, rising prices, and knock-on effects to the global supply chain.
Ball Sells Russian Packaging Business to Russian Firm
Ball Corporation announced in late September that it had sold its packaging business in Russia to the Arnest Group, a Russian chemical company that specializes in aerosols. Ball said the sale was for $530 million and that it has all necessary legal approvals. “This decision is the result of many months of consideration, delivering a solution that best secures the future of Ball’s colleagues and assets in Russia,” says Ball president and CEO Dan Fisher in the announcement. “We believe this is a sound outcome for Ball in these geopolitical circumstances.”
Baltimore’s Checkerspot wins Boston Beer’s “Experienceship”
Boston Beer Company announced that Checkerspot Brewing of Baltimore has won the 11th edition of its Brewing the American Dream Brewer Experienceship. As part of the award, Checkerspot founders Judy and Rob Neff will have “unparalleled access to brewing and business resources from experts at Samuel Adams,” including a trip to the brewery for a collaboration brew day. Among other factors, Boston Beer cited Checkerspot’s commitment to local charity programs.
Beer Institute Gets New Prez
The Beer Institute announced on October 12 that it had appointed Brian Crawford to be its president and CEO. Crawford previously lobbied for the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Brewers Association president and CEO Bob Pease released a statement to welcome and congratulate Crawford. “We look forward to continuing our collaborative relationship with Brian and the BI as we work together to strengthen and grow the beer category and support brewers, suppliers, beer lovers, and more than 2 million workers in the beer industry.” While the Beer Institute includes brewers, importers, and suppliers, it frequently represents the interests of the country’s largest beer companies.
Haas Announces Next CEO
Hops supplier John I. Haas in Yakima, Washington, says that its next CEO will be Tom Davis, stepping into the role to replace Alex Barth in August 2023. Haas also has promoted Davis, currently the executive VP for finance and operations, to COO, while Stephanie Conrad will step into the role of CFO. Barth will join the Haas Board of Directors. In a statement, the Board says, “In Davis we have found the future of Haas leadership while ensuring continuity with the innovation and operational excellence that has propelled the company to the top ranks of the hop industry.”
Sierra Nevada and Buffalo Trace Collab
One of the country’s largest and most respected craft breweries has teamed up for a new barrel-aged version of the Bigfoot barleywine, called Colonel E.H. Taylor Bourbon-Barrel Bigfoot. The 15 percent ABV beer—which some Great American Beer Festival attendees were able to sample in Denver—is a blend of Bigfoot barleywines aged for up to seven years in Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch Bourbon barrels.
World Wide Stout, Now for Breakfast ...
In mid-September, Delaware’s Dogfish Head released a new version of its World Wide Stout, the 15-plus percent ABV imperial stout that it’s been brewing since 1999. Wake Up World Wide Stout checks in at 15.3 percent ABV and includes organic coffee, maple syrup, oat milk, and sustainable malts from Epiphany.
… Or Put Some Southern Grist in Your Biscuit
In one of the more eye-opening cross-promo collabs this year, Nashville’s Southern Grist Brewing released a beer in cooperation with Hardee’s, the fast-food chain with more than 3,000 restaurants across the United States. Riffing on the chain’s buttermilk biscuits and strawberry jam, the making of Strawberry Biscuit Ale included 200 pounds (91 kilos) of biscuits and strawberry puree.