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August 23, 2015 - Dogfish Head Dodges Another Bullet, Gets Rehoboth Beach Expansion Plan Approved
For about two hours, the future of Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach was brought into question.

The country’s 13th largest craft brewing company, which opened its first brewpub in the town two decades ago, was at the final stage of approval to make its first renovation to the building since it originally opened.

BUT How the plan characterized the business’ distillery almost derailed the project altogether.

[ ... ]

By the end of Friday’s board of commissioners hearing on the project, the multimillion dollar rebuild received the board’s unanimous approval. But it came after a heated discussion of the application’s compliance with the city’s zoning code, which tugged at the brewing giant’s impact on the town and those who support it.

Read the complete story.

August 19, 2015 - Reuters: Some High Profile Craft Brewers Now Exploring Venture Capital or Sale
There are now more than a dozen craft brewers looking to sell all or parts of their businesses, according to a Reuters article that, citing unnamed sources, claims beer companies like Lagunitas, SweetWater Brewing, Ballast Point and even Dogfish Head* are exploring transactions.

One of those companies, New York City’s Brooklyn Brewery, has consistently turned down investments from private equity firms for more than 20 years, founder Steve Hindy told the news service. But with plans to construct a new $150 million brewery on the horizon, Hindy, 66, is now considering the sale of a minority stake in an effort to raise capital for the project and the continued growth of a Brooklyn brand that sold more than 250,000 barrels in 2014.

[ ... ]

Although Hindy said he hopes his company can remain independent, offers from institutional investors and strategic acquirers are pouring in. “In a two-week period, I had 17 different private equity firms that called,” he said.

That kind of interest from the financial world is not uncommon; just ask Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, who Reuters incorrectly claimed was also exploring selling a minority stake.*

Read more here (story includes a link to original Reuters article).

August 18, 2015 - The "Next Big Thing" (i.e. another IPA-like explosion) Will Not Happen Anytime Soon
One of the most frequent questions I get, from brewers and media alike, is what’s the next IPA? In case you’ve spent the last decade on an arctic expedition looking for lost beer, IPAs are on a bit of a growth trend. Understandably, lots of people are interested in getting ahead of the curve for the “next big thing.”

So as not to bury the lede, I’ll cut straight to my first point: there isn’t going to be another success story like IPAs in the near future. Part of this is simply the sheer size of IPA’s success. In IRI scan data, IPAs accounted for less than 8% of the craft category in 2008 (note: scan data captures off-premise, and so may under represent smaller brewery trends). Today they are 27.4%. That type of share growth would be incredible in a static category, but craft brewing is on pace to have a total volume this year three times larger than it was in 2008. That means if IPAs can finish the year at 27.5%+ craft share, the category would have grown more than 10X its 2008 size, or more than 6 million barrels in absolute growth.

If anything, these numbers probably underestimate the effect IPAs have had on growth, since in addition to IPAs, we’ve seen a trend toward the IPA-ification of everything: hoppy wheats, hoppy browns, SMASH (single malt and single hop) beers, and more. American brewers seem determined to continually put hops where no hops have gone before. That also includes the fast growing extension to the IPA category, session IPAs. Because of all these new hoppy dimensions, I often respond to “what is the next IPA”, with “IPAs.”

However, once we accept that it’s going to be tough for any style category to add the kind of volume growth we’ve seen from IPAs, I do think there are a number of styles that have the potential to get much larger. While these styles/style categories may not be a “next IPA”, they certainly have the potential to drive volume growth in the coming years.

To see which styles Watson believes have significant growth potential, Click Here

August 15, 2015 - Brewpubs Are Us: The Second Wave

At Kennett Brewing Co., the lights are low, the tables are long, and the community, seemingly, is organic.

Owners Jossy and Mark Osborne - who live in Little Britain, Lancaster County, a dry town - said locals and friends pitched in to create everything from the company's signs to its bathroom sinks. The sociable spirit transferred to the pub, a cozy but warehouse-like space tucked off South Broad Street in Kennett Square.

Customers "say it's [like] coming into somebody's house or living room," said Mark Osborne.

The vibe appears to be paying off, even though the brewpub is the second to launch in the borough this year. Two months before it opened in June, Downingtown-based Victory Brewing Co. debuted its own brewpub in Kennett Square.

They are just two of six new brewpubs in Chester County - and more than a dozen across the Philadelphia suburbs - that have opened or been licensed since 2014. And that's only counting establishments licensed as brewery pubs with the state Liquor Control Board - not microbreweries and other craft beer makers.

One might call it a second wave, the way craft beer is currently sweeping the suburbs...In the last year and a half, 14 brewery pubs opened or were licensed in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, according to Liquor Control Board records.

Read more.

August 12, 2015 - Delaware "Beer Bus" Promotes Beer Tourism
FOX NEWS (Patrick Clarke)
With renowned craft breweries setting up shop across Delaware, the often-overlooked state has become one of the must-visit destinations for alcohol tourists, or travelers seeking to taste and tour the industry.

This summer's launch of the Delaware Brew Bus, a licensed and insured limousine service, highlights the growth of alcohol tourism in Delaware.

On Sept. 19, the transportation company will offer its first public tour. From then on, the Craft Beer Lovers Tour will be offered on the first and third Saturday of every month, with the Taste of Delaware Tour being offered on the second and fourth Saturday of every month.

"People love touring these places, tasting all the great drinks and seeing how it all gets made," Delaware Brew Bus founder Ryan Graham told "The only problem is the driving. After you go to one or two, it gets a little unsafe and no one likes a DUI, especially the breweries, wineries and distilleries."

Although the Delaware Brew Bus exclusively targets fans of the craft beer, wine and liquor industry, it joins other businesses currently capitalizing on the explosion of the alcohol tourism segment through tours and other services.


August 10, 2015 - Legendary Beer Writer Fred Eckhardt has Died
Portland, OR "Beer Goddess" Lisa Morrison emailed tonight that "Just wanted to let you know that Fred Eckhardt died this morning. He had a few caregivers and they were by his side. He died peacefully in his sleep. Raise a toast to craft beer's muse tonight."

Along with the equally legendary British writer Michael Jackson, Eckhardt was a pioneer in beer writing. "Essentials" was one of the first, most useful books for anyone who really wanted to learn about beer and he was a major influence on every serious beer writer of the past quarter century.

We shall not see his like again.

August 05, 2015 - Origlio Beverage Announces Four Certified Cicerones
After six months of studying for the grueling exam, Origlio Beverage is proud to announce that four employees have passed the level two Cicerone exam. Craft and Specialty Account Managers, Jeff McCracken and Katie Woodson, as well as Corporate Communications Associates, Meredith Rebar and Julie Kovaleski are now Certified Cicerones®.

The Cicerone Certification program is the gold standard for professional skills and knowledge in the beer industry. Certified Cicerones® have in-depth knowledge of the many facets of beer production and retail sales including proper beer storage, beer styles, culture, tasting, flavors and brewing ingredients as well as beer and food pairing.

In a world where anyone can call themselves a beer expert, the Cicerone Certification Program offers detailed assessment and accreditation to industry professionals looking to distinguish themselves. The title Certified Cicerone® is trademark protected and may only be used by those individuals who have passed both the written and tasting portions of the exam. McCracken credits his success in passing the Cicerone exam in part to knowledge he learned in his previous position as a professional brewer. He explains, "Cicerone training has taught me how to utilize the knowledge that I obtained as a brewer to improve my skills as a salesman. The information I've acquired allows me to represent Origlio's extensive portfolio in the best way possible, which equates to more sales."

Tim Stammen, Craft and Specialty Import Sales Manager, discusses the impact of the training and certification on his team saying, "Certified Cicerone® training is important to Origlio's philosophy because we believe in the constant improvement of our team members. We strongly believe that developing our people through education and training greatly improves their confidence and job satisfaction, which in turn boosts morale. Training is a win/win. It improves employees skill sets and benefits the company by producing a stronger sales force. An educated, well trained and motivated team is an important and impactful resource. We are very proud and excited for our Certified Cicerones®. And I look forward to sharing their knowledge with the rest of the team."

August 04, 2015 - Reuters: Lagunitas Exploring “Strategic Options”
It seems there’s always another rumor of a top-50 craft brewery sale.

Today, Lagunitas made a Reuters headline that suggested the country’s fastest-growing craft brewery is currently exploring “strategic options, including the sale of an equity stake.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the news outlet said the company is working with Wells Fargo & Co. and could be valued “around $450 million.” Those same sources also said a joint venture was being explored, adding that “there is no certainty that any deal will materialize.”

Reached briefly by phone, brewery founder Tony Magee wouldn’t comment on the story or speculation that his company was for sale. Certainly, a deal with a private equity firm for the purpose of raising growth capital would represent a major turnaround from Magee’s statements last year. During a Brew Talks meetup at Lagunitas’ Chicago brewing facility, held last September, Magee shared his views on M&A activity in craft, speaking specifically to private equity’s involvement in the space.

Read more here.