Six-Pack of News, Volume 30: It's About Time Some Breweries Get Back to Basics

Over the last five years or so, I've noticed that a few prominent breweries who had one iconic beer were choosing to set aside that icon and try to diversify their portfolios. I mostly point to brewers like Guinness, Newcastle, and Sierra Nevada. Well, after a couple of years of declining sales figures, Sierra Nevada has announced a re-dedication to their famous Pale Ale. Brewbound has lots more, including quotes from a Sierra Nevada executive.

This article from the Beer Street Journal is a couple of weeks old now, but it's one of my favorite breweries, so screw it. Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC has refreshed their branding to eliminate the cartoonish Scotsman in favor of more natural symbols.

In additional Asheville-area beer news, Full Pint reports that Catawba Brewing Company has hit milestones in their ongoing brewery expansion. The expanded facility will focus on canning of Catawba's beers along with those from the recently-acquired Palmetto Brewing Company. The facilities of the Charleston, SC-based brewery will be utilized for much of both breweries' draft beer production, with the former Palmetto facility undergoing an expansion of its own later this year.

Because they apparently haven't learned from the cliff-dive in popularity that such beverages have taken over the last couple of years, MillerCoors and Arizona Beverages are collaborating to bring a spiked Arnold Palmer (half-icea tea, half lemonade) beverage to markets. (Beerpulse)

Craftbeer.com recently released their 2018 list of each state's top craft beer bar, according to their readers.

Let me tell you. I need to check out The Drinks Business website more often for beer news. I was going to post this article on how an Australian brewery trademarked the phrase "The Colour of Beer", but there are also articles on smuggled beer in Singapore, a 20,000-mile pub crawl, and something called Goat Tosser! Read about the Aussies, then just check out the site as a whole, or at least the beer side!

Six-Pack of News, Volume 29: A Frisky Start to 2018

2018 is only a month old, but there's been plenty going on in the beer world. I also want to give shout-outs to some expanding breweries related to my own local interests. But that will be later; let's get the bad news out of the way first.

A few notable breweries have fallen on hard times since the calendar flipped to 2018. Pabst Blue Ribbon may be the cheap beer of choice for many bars and restaurants across America, but the brewery seems to be undergoing a constant shedding of personnel since 2016, when they were temporarily buoyed by 2015's then-skyrocketing hard soda (Not Your Father's Root Beer, etc.) market. That niche offering came crashing down fast and hard, and Pabst just announced their latest round (and 2nd round in 2 years) of major layoffs. Under this layoff, Pabst will fire 50 employees and reduce their overall headcount by 70. Brewbound has all the details on the latest round of firings, as well as Pabst's overall roller-coaster ride of the last few years.

Obviously, one of the biggest news stories in the beer world was ABI's acquisition of Asheville, North Carolina's independent craft beer beacon, Wicked Weed Brewing. In response, the numerous breweries in the Charlotte area have created the Charlotte Independent Brewers Alliance (CIBA). The over 20 breweries across a 6-county area have been meeting informally for some time, but now have united into an official organization. Again, Brewbound has lots of details, including the official CIBA press release.

Related: Read all about the ABI/Wicked Weed transaction from last year!

The folks at Vinepair sure like their lists, and 2018 has been no exception. So let's talk beer tourism! First up is The World’s Top 10 Beer Destinations for 2018, which includes 3 international cities. Seoul, South Korea is #6, and I'm sure it's a lovely city. I just don't know if it's a great idea to advocate visiting there, given the current political fragility of the Korean Peninsula. Anyway, if you are looking for something more specific than just a great beer city, check out Vinepair's 5 Hotels for Beer Lovers, which will point you to several boutique hotels across the United States that might be run by breweries or even found on the premises of breweries!

The Disney Parks in Orlando, FL and Anaheim, CA are ever-evolving family destinations, but there is an ever-growing group of more...grown-up (read: "alcohol-based") opportunities at both resorts. WDW News Today is reporting on the latest round of changes to Anaheim's Downtown Disney dining and shopping district at the Disneyland Resort. Notable among the changes is a Ballast Point Brewing Company brewpub/restaurant space, which will include the first-ever brewery on a Disney property.

Finally, some congrats are due to breweries in my old and new hometowns. First checked out Crystal Ball Brewing Company in West York, PA in 2016. While they made some quality beers, the tasting room set-up and accessibility was lacking. CBBC was always aware of this, and have now rectified the situation with the opening of #CBBCity (as they want to call it). Their new space is located in the heart of York City, which is far more accessible, and offers local spirits (thanks to Pennsylvania's revamped liquor laws) and food from their next door neighbor, Issac's Deli. The York Daily Record has more on CBBC's journey. Next, congratulations to Columbia, SC's original craft brewery, the Hunter-Gatherer Brewery, on finally opening their new production space at Owens Field, Columbia's small-plane airstrip. Hunter-Gatherer restored an historic airplane hanger into an expanded production space and tasting room that opened it's doors in the middle of January. (Courtesy: Columbia's Free Times weekly)

Six-Pack of News, Volume 28: Strike and Counterstrike

Today's Six-Pack is spurred by the big news from earlier this week. The non-profit craft beer trade group The Brewers Association struck at Big Beer corporations posing as craft breweries (such as A-B InBev's High End) by unveiling a "Brewers Association Certified Independent Craft" logo that can be displayed on packaging, websites, in taprooms, and elsewhere. Craft beer DOES have a specific definition from the Brewers Association, mostly centered around ownership stakes, and this logo will help better-inform customers about who is making the beer they choose. (Brewbound)

ABI's High End responded to the new logo by releasing a video featuring the head of the High End as well as the founders of Wicked Weed, 10 Barrel, and others. I will have much more on this in a commentary later this weekend. (Draft Magazine)

Sometime ago, I mentioned how Stone Brewing made a beer using recycled wastewater from the San Diego area. Now, Ballast Point has taken another innovative and environmentally conscious step in creating beers using water produced via condensation, or pulling moisture out of the humidity in the air. (www.craftbrewingbusiness.com)

In the Six-Pack's obligatory list posting, Draft Magazine recently revealed their Top 50 IPAs in America, out of nearly 400 tasted. Obviously, there are a lot of hyper-local/-regional breweries on this list, so just try to seek out the ones that might be fairly close to you.

It's not news, per se, but I just did a video review of the Sierra Nevada/Garage Project collaboration, and I just found this Good Beer Hunting interview with one of the founders of the Wellington, New Zealand brewery.

Finally, my favorite bottle shop here in Columbia, Craft and Draft, is turning 3 years old soon! And they're having a birthday party!

Six-Pack of News, Volume 27: A New Best Beer in America

In the last Six-Pack earlier this month, I reported that ABI's October acquisition of a minority stake in RateBeer finally came to light. In the period since, some independent craft breweries have asked to have their beers removed from RateBeer. Good Beer Hunting recently hosted a roundtable discussing this backlash.

Related: Check out Six-Pack of News, Volume 26 for more on the RateBeer news!

The American Homebrewers Association and Zymurgy magazine released the 2017 list of the best beers in America, as voted on by Zymurgy readers. This year, Bell's Brewery's Two-Hearted Ale took top honors, dethroning Russian River's Pliny the Elder for the first time in 8 years. SFGATE has more, including some reasons for the new top beer, as well as comments from Bell's.

Beerpulse.com (likely among others) reported the Press Release from Boulevard Brewing Company announcing a $10 million expansion of their brewery in Kansas City, Missouri.

The number of breweries in America now numbers over 5000, and Virginia is doing its fair share by recently passing the 200 licensed brewery milestone, according to Brewbound. Virginia's 206 breweries make it 13th-ranked state in the U.S. for number of breweries. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe points to the passing of a 2012 law that allowed breweries to sell beer for on-site consumption, not just purchasing for off-site. In addition to Virginia's 200+ breweries, Governor McAuliffe has worked hard to push several high-profile craft brewers to open up East Coast operations in the state of Virginia.

Finally, with green power efforts ever increasing worldwide, craftbeer.com reports on two domestic craft breweries that are now able to provide up to 100% of their electricity via solar power.

Six-Pack of News, Volume 26: Acquisition Heavy

My first group of stories all have to do with mergers and acquisitions of various types. Unfortunately, A-B InBev IS involved, but at least not with a brewery. Let's get started.

Fort Collins Brewery, a craft beer staple in Colorado since 1992, and working under its current name since 2003, has been acquired by Vancouver, BC, Canada's Red Truck Beer Company. FCB will cease operations in July, though Red Truck will produce some of their own beers AND is pursuing the possibility of contract brewing through the facility. Red Truck also intends to create a restaurant/brewpub in the soon-to-be-former FCB space. (Originally reported by Porch Drinker, additional details from Brewbound)

Additionally, Cismontane Brewing Company recently acquired the assets of its struggling southern California neighbor Lightning Brewery.  According to Brewbound, the deal does not include rights to the Lightning Brewery name or use of their tasting room. Cismontane will look to sell off the equipment piece-meal or sell the entire facility as a turn-key brewing operation. They may also keep some of the equipment as they look to equip their own new production facility.

In our obligatory ABI story of the week, it was recently announced that ABI's venture capital group ZX Ventures purchased a minority stake in RateBeer, a top beer rating and reviewing website. One little detail: THIS HAPPENED IN OCTOBER! Like all such ABI acquisitions, RateBeer founder Joe Tucker maintained that the site will be allowed to maintain its "value as an unbiased beer authority". Bud Light remains in RateBeer's 50 Worst-Rated Beers list, so so far, so good. (h/t Porch Drinking)

In a story that I am very happy to see: while craft beer growth may be slowing nationwide, Vinepair calls the South a "slumbering craft beer giant" as Prohibition-era laws are finally being modernized across the region. As examples, Alabama and Florida registered the most growth in barrels of beer produced nationwide between 2011 and 2016, with a few other Southern states amongst the Top 10.

Finally, craftbeer.com recaps a recent craft beer-based category on "Jeopardy!", and even allows you to play the category at home! Just remember to answer in the form of a question!

Six-Pack of News, Volume 25: An Acquisition News-Free Edition!

Man, it seems like that ABI/Wicked Weed news hit the fan a couple of weeks ago, and everyone else decided to stay the hell out of the news cycle for a while. I tried to do this news round-up about a week ago, and there was nothing but new releases out there. But, I was able to scrounge up some actual news, so let's get to it!

The Colorado Rockies baseball team celebrating their 25th season playing in Denver, the Denver Post documented how the Rockies, and especially the building of Coors Field, spurred the craft beer scene in Denver.

I admit, this piece from The Full Pint's co-founder is more opinion piece than news. But bookmark this list, and watch it for the next decade.

Portland, Maine's Shipyard Brewing Company is not happy with Columbia, Missouri's Logboat Brewing Company over the name of one of Logboat's beers.

Justin Kendall at Brewbound documents some the activities of the Massachusetts state alcohol task force, which is tasked with modernizing the state's alcohol laws and unwittingly playing referee between distributors and small craft brewers.

Brewbound (among others) is also reporting that New Belgium Brewing's longtime brewmaster Peter Bouckaert will be leaving New Belgium to work at a rebranding small-scale brewery and coffee producer in Fort Collins, Colorado (home of New Belgium).

Finally, in a Vinepair article that could have some NSFW-ish content in it, the English brewery Cerne Abbas is producing a Pilsner brewed with the aphrodisiac plant watercress. The beer's label contains at least one double entendre and, fair warning, cave drawing-style art of a man with a club and a significant erection. Frankly, you should all be proud of me for acting like such a grown-up in writing this summary.

 

Six-Pack of News, Volume 24: Want a Corona with your Taco Burrito?

Above is the clean title of this post. The dirty title involves slug sex. You're welcome.

In what should come as little surprise, given their massive population, China is set to become the world's largest craft beer-consuming country, according to trade research group Drink Sector. Already the world's largest consumer of alcohol overall, now Chinese citizens are demanding more offerings from small- and medium-scale breweries, including craft breweries IN China. (China Topix)

Between it serving as the capital of Florida AND as home to a major university (Florida State), it should come as no surprise that Tallahassee, Florida has become a burgeoning craft beer destination. The Tallahassee Democrat has more.

The folks at craftbeer.com love their lists, apparently. Here, I thought the VinePair staff were the only list freaks. Anyway, craftbeer.com offers a list of 7 easy-drinking dark lagers that help craft beer novices get started down the path of enjoying such beers. Additionally, they have also compiled a list of the top upcoming craft beer festivals in 2017. The list spans the country and includes many of the top craft beer festivals like GABF and locales like Asheville, NC and more.

canoe.com and The Canadian Press are reporting that Taco Bell's flagship store in Toronto, Ontario will start selling beer and wine this June. Additional Canadian stores will follow in the offerings and join select American stores in these offerings, which was news to me.

In Brewbound's recent news round-up, they note the on-going the craft beer industry's constant battle to modernize and adapt states' liquor laws to be more craft brewery-friendly. They specifically note issues in the states of Maryland and North Carolina.

Finally, I think it is generally accepted that alcohol tends to make humans more susceptible to sexy times. For a specific type of Spanish slug, not so much. Researchers in Europe are concerned over the spreading and mutation of the Arion vulgaris giant slug throughout the United Kingdom, and have recommended leaving out saucers of beer, which attract the slugs and cause them to drown. So, you know. There's that.

Six-Pack of News, Volume 23: Taking "Sights and Sounds of the Game" Too Far?

I can appreciate a beer specially made for a specific team or ballpark/stadium, but Terrapin might be taking it just a hair too far. They've set-up a small pilot brewery at the Atlanta Braves unnecessary new stadium, SunTrust Park, which will celebrate its inaugural Opening Day this coming weekend. Beer Street Journal reports that among the featured offerings at the new Terrapin Taproom and ATL Brew Lab will be Chopsecutioner, a unique variant of their flagship Hopsecutioner IPA with two notable differences: a lower ABV (Chopsecutioner checks in at 5% vs. 7.3%), and the AGING ON MIZUNO WOOD BAT CHIPS. This baseball-themed and woodbat-infused IPA will only be available at SunTrust Park.

The folks at Vinepair sure like their lists, and today is no exception, as they recently released their 14 Best Brewery Tours in the United States. It's generally larger/better-known craft entities, but just about everyone on this list has different tour types to satisfy everyone from the casual beer drinking to the most devout craft beer connoisseur.

As has been documented on this blog, financials from the craft beer industry have been a bit of a mixed bag in 2016, and Brewbound as a series of articles continuing to affirm the volatile state of the industry. First up is a round-up of layoffs, closings, and more at a handful of craft breweries. At the same time, Constellation Brands reported a 17 percent increase in revenues from its beer portfolio, which includes Mexican imports Corona and Modelo, along with San Diego's Ballast Point. Additionally, the Brewers Association trade group reported a 4.4% overall increase in American craft beer exports, totaling over 400,000 barrels of beer with a value of $121 million. This increase is driven by double-digit increases in exports to Japan and the Asia/Pacific region in general.

Finally, the website The Drinks Business has documented the analysis of three 100-year old bottles of beer found in a brewery in Záhlinice in the Czech Republic. Sensory and chemical tests were performed on all three bottles, to wide-ranging results.

Six-Pack of News, Volume 21: Bud Light Weighing Heavily on A-B InBev

It really seems like a lot of the "news" on the various beer news sites right now is nothing more than glorified or enhanced press releases for breweries' various new or returning offerings. I want to stay away from that in these news aggregation posts, as it is an easy out that can lead to ignorance of REAL beer news. Maybe beer release posts could become their own thing in the future. We'll see. Anyway, let's get to the beer news!

In one of the early Six-Packs of News, I noted Stone Brewery's efforts to build a hotel that is set to open in 2018. Well, Scottish brewers BrewDog have expanded their plans to open a brewery Columbus, Ohio to include a crowdfunding campaign to open up a beer hotel with ALL of the beer amenities. Craftbeer.com has all the awesome details, which includes IPA hot tubs and the ultimate shower beer set-up!

Also from craftbeer.com, a major newspaper printing error calls the indy cred of Maui Brewing Company in to question.

The folks at Vinepair sure like their lists, and today is no exception, as they help out the craft beer novices and neophytes of the world with the 7-Step Method to Tasting Beer.

Bryan Roth at Good Beer Hunting recently published an excellent profile on Asheville, North Carolina's Highland Brewing Company.

Intermittently in these Six-Packs, we've discussed financials from various breweries, as well from the craft beer segment of the beer industry AND the beer industry as a whole. Well, A-B InBev reported their 4th quarter and fiscal year 2016 numbers, and reported "mid-single digit" declines in Budweiser and Bud Light sales. Despite this, Budweiser as a core brand did increase global revenue by just under 3%, and other brands like Stella Artois, Michelob Ultra, and the High End beer group reported strong growth. Brewbound has all the details.

Finally, in local news, Columbia's own River Rat Brewery will be celebrating its 3rd birthday THIS SATURDAY! Congratulations, River Rat! I plan on checking out their birthday party and covering it for the website, so stay tuned this weekend and next week! (Free Times)

 

Six-Pack of News, Volume 20: It Only FEELS Like 5 Months Between Six-Packs

Boy, I've been hitting all kinds of milestones recently. One year of video blogging AND 100 videos. 400 different beers reviewed. And now, a whopping 20 news round-ups! Just since May! AMAZING!

 

 

...let's get to it.

In what I imagine is a bi-weekly question for this city, the Asheville, NC Citizen-Times asks whether their fair city has too many breweries.

The folks at Vinepair sure like their lists, but in this news round-up, I would like to direct you to a map of the highest-rated brewery in each country, per the Untappd mobile app (find me @pourlyreviewedbeer!). Thankfully, the United States is repping itself well by having The Alchemist be our top-rated brewery!

Headlining a Brewbound news round-up of its own (and as mentioned on this week's "This Week in Beer" webcast!), Amazon plans to sell beer and wine at its super high-tech brick-and-mortar convenience store in Seattle called Amazon Go. This round-up also includes news on the possible U.S. return of the classic alcoholic beverage of the 1990s, Zima. So, we also have that going for us...

Brewbound also has news and the press release on the trade group The Brewers Association's election of a new board of directors for 2017. The press release also notes that there are now over 5200 "small and independent craft brewers" in the United States.

I note the updated brewery number, because All About Beer magazine recently reported on the extended waits brewers now face in getting their operating permits. The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) says breweries now wait an average of 166 days, over 5 months, to receive their operating permits, as of September 2016. This is a 28.6% increase in wait time from the previous year, and more than double the wait time in 2013.

Finally, the team at craftbeer.com has details on the new brewery and expansion plans for Russian River Brewing Company, makers of the Pliny pair of beers, among many others. Construction will begin in April with a target completion of late 2018.

 

 

Six-Pack of News, Volume 19: Featuring The High and Mighty Sierra Nevada

Hello, everyone! I have a fresh batch of news all ready for you! Let's do it!

Yesterday, Switchback Brewing Company in Vermont has established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, in which 100 percent of company stock will be placed into a trust and distributed annually to employees based on salary. Switchback joins a number of significant craft breweries, including Deschutes, Left Hand, and New Belgium, who have gone the ESOP route, turning the breweries employees into the sole stockholders. Brewbound has all the details.

Zach Fowle at Draft Magazine notes many breweries' decisions to reduce or eliminate the use of 22-25 oz. "bomber" bottles from their stock in favor of smaller bottles. I will have more on this in a commentary piece this weekend, so stay tuned!

A recent Harris Poll of 2100 adults nationwide found that 38% of "legal drinking age consumers" prefer beer to wine or spirits. Wine was the preferred beverage of 31% of poll respondents, only good enough for 2nd place--sorry, Mom and Dad.

In addition to noting the Harris Poll above, and covering the Switchback news, Brewbound also posted an excellent round-up of some state legislative news, including laws in three states that would loosen direct sales rules in various forms. In addition, the state of Nebraska wants to limit craft breweries' off-site taproom and retail opportunities, while Virginia wants to exempt taxes paid on hops, malt, barley, and wheat that are grown in-state.

The Coloradoan newspaper notes that canned craft beer earned over 17% of the national share of packaged craft beer in 2016, roughly tripling their share since 2013. The Coloradoan is all over this news, because Longmont, Colorado's Oskar Blues Brewery was one of the craft beer canning pioneers, canning their beers since 2002.

Finally, Sierra Nevada Vice President Brian Grossman addressed an assembled group of international brewers at Sierra Nevada's new production facility in Asheville, North Carolina and dramatically proclaimed craft beer "a dying art form". Now, of course, he was trying to make a point about how the start-up cost to start a brewery has become relatively cheap so any Joe Schmo, especially a Schmo who hasn't done the homework necessary in the art of brewing, can just start a brewery. And these Schmos can put out beer of questionable quality. And because Schmos Brew is small, they will immediately be labelled "craft", and their reputation for crappy beer will affect the entire craft beer industry. The point is fair, but I feel Grossman's whole sentiment is fairly overly dramatic. I believe the quality-based capitalism of the craft beer community, and I believe in their/our ability to self-enforce through our choices. The industry recently hit 5000 domestic craft breweries. I imagine a fair number of these are still fairly new (1-3 years) and might still be going through their initial seed money. But if these relatively new breweries are putting out crap, they won't last. And I wouldn't be surprised to see that craft brewery number dip back under 5000. Which might not be a bad thing, really. It could be a matter of the community ridding itself of the inferior product.

Despite all that, I have two words for Brian Grossman: C'mon, man.

(The link above also includes an in-depth interview with Grossman, courtesy of Good Beer Hunting.)

Six-Pack of News, Volume 18: Who Wants to be my Disney World Correspondent?

Admittedly, it has been quite a while since the last news round-up. That is partially due to a somewhat slow news period around the holidays, but I was also waiting for February to come around so that I would have content to post during my dry time. Anyway, I have plenty to write about, so let's get started!

The Walt DIsney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is always looking for an angle to draw more guests to their theme parks and hotels--that's just plain capitalism. The main play at the Epcot theme park has been to add to and expand on their group of festivals held around the park. The latest is being called the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Tom Corless and crew at WDWNT has full festival details, if you are interested, but what caught my eye were the beer offering at two of the food and drink kiosks set up around the park. The Cuisine Classique kiosk has a wonderful trio of beers: one of the iconic pale ales of the last generation-plus (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale), one of the top breweries in America right now (Bell's Two-Hearted Ale), and one of the best Milk Stouts I've had (Duck-Rabbit). The beers from the Painter's Palate are less revered, but given the creative angle the Epcot folks were going for, the choices of 3 Daughters Strawberry Nitro, Breckenridge Nitro Vanilla Porter, and Young's Double Chocolate Stout are just fine choices. Find all the details of those specific booths in the respective links. The festival runs Fridays through Mondays at Epcot through February 20th.

I first mentioned this back in November, when it was backed by the Brewers Association trade group, but Senators Ron Wyden or Oregon and Roy Blunt of Missouri have reintroduced the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act for the Senate side of the 115th Congress, which began its legislative work earlier this year. The bill reduces excise taxes collected for smaller-scale breweries. Representatives Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and Ron Kind of Wisconsin introduced the House version of the bill, as well. The Brew Studs have all the details on the bill.

The Smithsonian Institution has hired a beer historian for the National Museum of American History. Theresa McCulla will soon receive a doctorate from Harvard in American Studies, which includes a doctoral dissertation on New Orleans cuisine and racial influences of said cuisine. For the National Museum of American History, "McCulla will research America’s brewing history and share her findings with the public," according to the article from Brewed Culture.

Because nostalgia seems to be all the rage right now, Bud Light has resurrected legendary 80's advertising canine Spuds McKensie for an ad in this weekend's Super Bowl.

Guinness beer will soon be brewed in America for the first time in over 60 years, according to this article from Brewbound. Diageo Beer Company, USA will be opening a Guinness brewery and visitor center in Maryland that will brew traditional Guinness and develop experimental styles for U.S. markets.

Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery has teamed with Annapolis, Maryland's AC Beverage to create a straight-from-the-barrel draft beer system. The system allows nitrogen to be fed into oak barrels, and has an inline set of equipment from the barrels to cool and pressurize the beer for service. Beer Street Journal has all the details.

Six-Pack of News, Volume 17: I hope you're ready for that Bud Light Cran-ber-ita Keurig pod!

It's been a month-plus since the last news round-up. But I'm back with a new group of news stories, including a preview of a standalone news and commentary post that will be coming later this week. Let's get to the news.

Multiple sites have reported on A-B Inbev entering into a joint research-and-development agreement with Keurig Green Mountain, makers of the proprietary single-cup hot beverage machines and the accompanying hot coffee, tea, and other beverage pods. Keurig developed a cold-drink system that did not do well in the market, and was discontinued last year. A-B Inbev and Keurig aim to revive the cold-drink technology for development of an in-home alcohol drink system. Brewbound has more details on the agreement.

It's no secret that craft beer sales have taken off like a juggernaut over the last decade or so, but marketing firm IRI Worldwide has noted that industry growth might finally be slowing down, at least in supermarkets. IRI reports that craft dollar sales at U.S. supermarkets grew just 6.9 percent in 2016, the first time in over a decade that this section of the industry failed to reach double digit growth. (Brewbound)

Adding to the concept of flattening craft beer growth is the latest financial news by Motley Fool about Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams), which has seen both shipments and sales to distributors decline in 2016, the first year-over-year decline since 2003. I would think that at least a chunk of this decline could be attributed to Boston's Coney Island hard soda brand, as the bubble on the whole hard soda concept seems to have burst after its high a couple of years ago.

One of the great American collegiate rites of passage, or so I've been told, is the concept of the shower beer. Great for pregaming before a night out, or to hair-of-the-dog it the morning after, shower beer is one of those concepts that can be considered both rather juvenile AND rather brilliant. Now, a Swedish brewery and marketing company have come up with perfect beer for just such an occasion. (Tasting Table)

Forgive me, but the back third of this round-up is going to be rather local. Craftbeer.com reports on a nanobrewery that has attached itself to a burger joint in the Old Town district of Bluffton, SC, northeast of Savannah, GA.

And finally, some time ago, I noted the upcoming expansion of Hunter-Gatherer brewpub, which has been a Columbia, SC beer-brewing institution for over 20 years, into a full-fledged production brewery, to be located in a historic airplane hanger at Columbia's Hamilton-Owens Airport. Eva Moore at the alt-weekly Free Times, a Columbia institution in its own right, has all the details on hanger renovations, which must be approved by a committee, due to the historic nature of the hanger.

Now, coming this weekend, I have some things to say about an article from Vinepair that is making out a major national chicken chain to be a craft beer mecca. Is this true or false? Find out this weekend!

Six-Pack of News: Volume 16

It's been close to a month since I've done one of these, but seems non-release news has been relatively sparse through the start of the holiday season. But I've saved up enough articles to fill up my carrier, so let's get to it.

Mark DeWolf from The Chronicle Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada tries to bridge the gap between the beer-drinkers of the world and the wine-drinkers of the world by providing a guide that recommends beer styles based on one's preferred wine style choice.

The folks at Vinepair sure like their lists, and this week is no exception, as they list ten of the best Winter Warmer-style beers, which is appropriate, given the cold weather that has pushed through the U.S.A. recently. A number of the beers on this list have widespread or national/near-national distribution, so you should be able to find at least a couple of these in any area.

Vinepair also discusses the potentially-charged question of whether the craft beer scene suffers from a lack of diversity.

Draft Magazine getting into the listicle format with their selections of the 25 best beers of 2016. Like with so many of these lists, the beers almost completely come from small breweries, and likely were made in small batches, so good luck if you don't live near one of the breweries listed.

In the Thanksgiving edition of the news round-up, I mentioned that Avery Brewing Company elected to restructure its beer line-up to focus on barrel-based beers. Firestone Walker announced earlier this fall that it would discontinue a special line of beers, and New Belgium just announced an overhaul to their line-up, eliminating some core beers and creating some new ones.

Finally, one of the very first Six-Packs of News mentioned information from the Brewers Association noting that there were over 4200 breweries across the United States. Well, the 2016 Craft Beer Year in Review reported that there are now over 5,000 breweries in operation in the United States. The Association also notes that over 99 percent of these breweries are "small and independent".

Overstuffed-Turkey of News: Even featuring a dessert article!

I'll be honest. I've been stockpiling news links for a Six-Pack, but just never got around to writing it. But if I wait, too long, of course, the news becomes woefully outdated. So, with that and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in mind, I give you today's massive news round-up. The Six-Pack of News has officially become an Overstuffed-Turkey!

We start with news of a beer line-up restructuring from Avery Brewing Company. They have decided to cut 7 beers out of their line-up so that they can focus more attention on multiple special release barrel series in 2017.

This is slightly old news, but the Brewers Association, a craft beer trade advocacy group, has backed the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA). This bill with the awkward acronym was first introduced to the U.S. Congress by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and this bill and its House companion seem to finally be gaining traction in their respective bodies. Since the bill's introduction in 2015, the Brewers Association has maintained talking points and more information for supporters to use to lobby for this bill. More recently, Brew Studs broke down the bill's advantages, which include significant tax relief for small brewers and additional tax and process easements from the Alcohol and Tabacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Not content to assimilate the craft beer scene into their collective, A-B InBev may be turning its sights on Coca-Cola. This seems to be fairly blatant cash grab on behalf of A-B InBev executives, as reports disclosed in regulatory filings indicate big paydays for the brewer's senior management team if annual revenues cross $100 billion, which a Coca-Cola acquisition would likely achieve. When news of possible acquisition became public early last week, Wall Street didn't react well to the news, pushing A-B InBev's stock lower.

The folks at Vinepair sure like their lists, and this week is no exception, even when they need to twist themselves into pretzels to find a theme. This week's is "Heal Your Family With These 10 Beers", which I think is supposed to be election result-themed, but really just looks like a list of 10 interesting beers.

This is more general alcohol-themed, but Vinepair also provides a fun chart that guides WHAT to drink (beer, wine, liquor) for assorted Thanksgiving situations.

I'm not going to go research this, but it feels like I had seen articles recently bemoaning shortages in certain hops varieties. Regardless, U.S. hop growers are set to have a record year in hop harvesting in 2016. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports U.S. hop production has doubled since 2012.

Chicago brewpub Band of Bohemia became the first-ever brewpub to be awarded a prestigious Michelin star. Read all about it at craftbeer.com!

I had always felt like my home state of Pennsylvania had some bass ackwards beer laws--laws that seem to be finally becoming modernized. But I thought Pennsylvania was bad, the website Good Beer Hunting notes some states' really terrible beer laws--laws that are crippling the potential for small brewers in those states.

Finally, if you're still looking for what to serve as dessert for your Thanksgiving dinner...well, you're kinda up You-Know-What Creek at this point. But a fun option for the future might be beer- and wine-flavored lollipops, as reported on by Simplemost and sold by Lollyphile!

That's the news, everybody! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Six-Pack of News, Volume 14

Game 7 of the World Series is starting any minute now, but I had a full rack of stories for the news round-up, so let's get to it!

Anheuser-Busch and Otto, developers of self-driving truck technology, recently completed the first successful commercial shipment by self-driving truck when they sent a tractor-trailer full of beer on I-25 from Fort Collins, CO to Colorado Springs. The 120-plus mile trip was monitored by a truck driver observing the entire trip from inside the truck.

Vinepair likes their lists, and their latest is to consult "The Beer Goddess", nickname of a Portland-area bottle shop manager, about the 9 beers SHE likes to drink herself.

Vinepair's Nick Hines also documented the history of the Beer Mile, one of mankind's absolute best and absolute worst ideas.

In a recent interview, food personality Anthony Bourdain decided to be a little bit grumpy about the craft beer scene as a whole, and "beer snobs" in general. Bourdain insisted "(a) bar is to go to get a little bit buzzed, and pleasantly derange the senses, and have a good time...(it's) not to sit there f---ing analyzing beer." Now, I really don't see why bars can't be both, or at least fall into either category. I frequent a number of different types of bars, and some of them I specifically go to to "analyze craft beer". But there are also plenty of places where I don't want to spend a lot of money, or, to Bourdain's point, I just want to loosen up a little bit or not use my brain for awhile. I reasonably understand few bars could pull off both vibes. But I fail to understand why the "beer snob" place is not a place worth visiting. The full Bourdain interview from the website Thrillist can be found here.

I tend to not point out breweries' new releases, just due to the sheer volume of those releases. But any baseball fan will be very interested in an upcoming release from Samuel Adams. They will be honoring recently-retired Boston Red Sox designated hitter David "Big Papi" Ortiz with Big Hapi Double IPA brewed with mango. Sam Adams will release 541 bottles (matching Ortiz' career home run total) of Big Hapi on Friday.

Finally, the Great American Beer Festival recently wrapped up in Denver, Colorado, and the Huffington Post's Ryan Grenoble documented some of the oddest beers he found at the festival. Some of the more adventurous beers utilized ingredients such as pickles, birch tree sap, and scrapple (a meat-scraps delicacy most popular in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey).

Six-Pack of News, Volume 13

Welcome to the latest Six-Pack of News, the 3rd news article in 8 days here at PRB. I've rounded up some news and a bit of handy beer knowledge that's worth checking out. Let's start with the big boys of beer, shall we?

Fresh off their assimilation of SABMiller, official World's Largest Beer Company A-B InBev's venture capital arm, ZX Ventures, acquired Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply and its sister company, Midwest Supplies. Northern, the country's largest homebrewing supplier, explained that "[n]othing will fundamentally change in as the result of this deal--in fact, things will only get better." As always, time will tell on such "partnerings".

A couple of higher-ups are leaving Dogfish Head and Surly Brewing.

Vinepair likes their lists, and their latest is a rundown of their favorite Anniversary craft beers. This list includes some widely-distributed brewers (Stone, Great Divide), some of the industry's heaviest hitters (Firestone Walker), and a few smaller releases that might not necessarily make it to your particular area.

Vinepair also tries to be hip while explaining the drastic downturn in pumpkin beer sales in the last two years. As a note, I disagree with one the finale premises of the article, stating that early August is a "seasonally appropriate time" to release pumpkin beers. Week before Labor Day, people! No sooner!

New Delhi, India-based microbrewer Bira 91 used viral marketing to attain a level of success, and now a major venture capital firm has noticed.

Finally, not so much of a piece of news, but some good advice for fans of food pairings. We always see analyses of wines to pair with certain foods. And some breweries have started doing this on their bottles and/or websites recently. But craftbeer.com has made it easy for everyone by making this Beer and Food Pairing Chart. The chart is also available for download.

 

Six-Pack of News, Volume 12

After a couple of weeks, the Six-Pack is back, and there's plenty to get into, including the recently-completed Great American Beer Festival.

GABF handed out 286 medals to 254 different breweries at this weekend's festival. As a South Carolinian, I'd like to congratulate Revelry Brewing Company and Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom for earning Silver Medals in the Scotch Ale and Bock categories, respectively. You can see the entire list of winners, including Champion Breweries and Pro-Am winners, right here.

Vinepair likes their lists, and in the last few weeks have given their thoughts on the best Fall beers and their favorite beers for tailgating. Some surprises on the latter list--I never expected it to be so Pale Ale/IPA-heavy.

In a follow-up to the last Six-Pack, Cape May Brewing Company was named Start-up/Young Manufacturer of the Year by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program. Congrats, guys!

In what seems to be good news for craft beer drinkers, but really isn't, researchers from Friedrich Schller University Jena in Germany determined that IPAs are less harmful to the liver than other forms of alcohol, per a study performed on rats. Now, the key words are "LESS HARMFUL", as in, "still harmful" to the liver.

In what seemed to be the day's big beer news, Japan's Kirin Brewery purchased a roughly 24.5% stake in Brooklyn Brewery. The transaction, which was valued at "several billion yen" (placing it in the $40-80 million range, roughly) also includes a new joint venture which will be 40% owned by Brooklyn, as well as product development for the Japan market, restaurant development, and an expansion of Brooklyn products into Brazil. It is worth noting that by limiting Kirin's stake to under 25%, Brooklyn can maintain its independent craft brewery designation with the Brewers Association.

Finally, I seem to frequently drop in a story of local/South Carolina interest, and this Six-Pack is no different. The City of Columbia's Board of Zoning Appeals approved a microbrewery that will takeover an abandoned warehouse in the Innovista district in the western part of Columbia. The Columbia Craft Brewing Company has investors and a professional brewer ready to begin operations, as soon as the warehouse is renovated and prepped for operations.

Six-Pack of News, Volume 11

Hello, everyone! I have some programming notes for later on in this post, but let's get to the news!

In Volume 10 of this news series, I threw some love towards the first and only brewery in the country of Jordan, Carakale Brewing Company. Now, thanks, in part, to fellow beer reviewer Rod Jones, here are a couple of articles about Carakale. This Vice article is a couple years old, but the Fox News article is from earlier this month and also includes interviews from other Arab brewers.

After roughly two years of success from their "Not Your Father's" alcoholic soda series, Small Town Brewery is adding Mom to the mix. The line-up will begin with Not Your Mom's Iced Tea, which will be released shortly.

A new beer-filling system designed to create the perfect head inside a beer growler, bottle, or can was featured on the hit ABC reality show Shark Tank, with seemingly positive reviews from the investors on the show. The system, named Fizzic, is available from Amazon and Brookstone.

In some news of personal interest, Cape May Brewing Company, about whom I wrote an in-depth review here, is a finalist for Manufacturer of the Year at the 2016 New Jersey Manufacturing Awards. The winner will be announced on October 7th--watch this space.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal published an article today about the supply-and-demand difficulties surrounding some specialty hops. Mostly focusing on supply shortages, article author Tripp Mickle talks to multiple small brewers about these supply issues, and how they have affected breweries' bottom lines.

One last thing: some programming announcements for the video review part of this site. There will be a review of Victory's anniversary beer tomorrow, then the month of October will soon be upon us. And what better way to start the month than with an Octoberfest series! Three videos, six different beers, beginning Saturday, October 1st, with the 2nd and 3rd parts coming the first half of next week. The Octoberfest videos will be videos 47-49, which means I will be making my 50th video in the next couple of weeks. To celebrate the milestone, I have a special side-by-side planned for that video, which will be released the week of October 10th. You can check all of those videos out, along with the 45 I've already made, right here!