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July 28, 2014 - Craft Brewer Sales Showed Solid Growth in First Half of 2014
Small and independent craft brewers enjoyed continued growth in the first half of 2014, according to new mid-year data released by the Brewers Association (BA), the not-for-profit trade association that represents the majority of U.S. breweries. American craft beer production volume increased 18 percent during the first half of the year.

From January through the end of June 2014, approximately 10.6 million barrels of beer were sold by craft brewers, up from 9.0 million barrels over the first half of 2013. (Note: The 18 percent growth rate is based on the updated craft brewer definition and derived from comparable barrel total from the first half of 2013. Mid-year figures first reported in 2013 were based on the previous craft brewer definition).

“The sustained double-digit growth of the craft category shows the solidity of demand for fuller flavored beer in a variety of styles from small and independent American producers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Craft brewers are providing world-class, innovative products that continue to excite beer lovers and energize the industry.”

Complete news release with more details, charts and graphs is here.

July 25, 2014 - Did Prohibition Make the Craft Beer Boom Possible?
American craft brewing is flourishing, and Prohibition is partly to thank.

Led by brewpubs and microbreweries, the number of U.S. breweries has doubled since 2007 to roughly 3,000, according to the Brewers Association, with hundreds more under construction. There were as few as 93 breweries countrywide in the early 1980s.

Big brewers are still dominant — craft beer accounts for only 8 percent of total volume, and two companies, Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, hold roughly three-quarters of the market. But craft brewing is steadily gaining.

Craft brewers chalk up their success to a sea change in Americans’ tastes.

[ ... ]

Consumers may be driving the surge, but the craft beer industry wouldn't have been able to respond without changes to the regulation of alcohol. After all, during Prohibition, there were no legal breweries, despite the pent-up demand for beer.

Read the complete story right here.

July 22, 2014 - Green Flash IPA, Brewed by St-Feuillien, Will Expand Brewery's European Footprint
Mike and Lisa Hinkley, Co-Founders of California-based Green Flash Brewing Co. and Dominique Friart, CEO of traditional Belgian-based Brewery St-Feuillien are excited to announce news about the evolution of their ongoing, cross-continental brewing alliance.

These innovative breweries have made the strategic decision to advance their relationship from creatively collaborative “sister-breweries” to pioneer new territory as production partners in Europe. After a year of top-secret planning, St-Feuillien and Green Flash are executing plans based on a handshake agreement whereby the legendary Belgian operation will brew, bottle and ship the San Diego craft brewery’s flagship beer, West Coast IPA® for broad distribution throughout Europe. Green Flash is thrilled to be the first American craft brewery to bring the freshest available American IPA to market in the region. The first 240 hectoliter batch of West Coast IPA in bottles and kegs is currently shipping from St-Feuillien in Belgium to a hand-selected network of distributors and importers in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Germany and France.

“We’ve been pursuing European distribution of West Coast IPA for some time, however the obvious challenges in delivering fresh IPA to the region have been a huge roadblock,” says Mike Hinkley. “After testing various export scenarios on a small scale, it became apparent that the quality of our IPA when transported to Europe was not ideal and cost-prohibitive for consumers. We were not satisfied with the customer experience and felt we had to come up with a better solution.”

[ … ]

“As brewing partners, we have always been humbly enthusiastic to learn from one another,” says Green Flash Brewmaster Chuck Silva when describing the evolution of his rapport with St-Feuillien Brewmaster, Alexis Briol. “This mutual respect allows us, as international counterparts, to find common ground and we have worked very closely on our latest endeavor. I have complete faith in Alexi and his team to consistently brew the highest quality West Coast IPA in Europe, hopefully for years to come and will continue overseeing the process as needed.”

For many Europeans, the notoriously hoppy beer style from Green Flash will be a new discovery, but for the growing segment of craft beer lovers in the market, the opportunity to find super-fresh and high-quality American Craft beer from Green Flash will be an exciting prospect. Green Flash is honored to be joining forces with the world-class Belgian brewers at St-Feuillien to satisfy this rapidly growing thirst for specialty craft beer from the US. Both breweries are looking forward to continuing to work on collaborations including production of West Coast IPA and other beers, for many years to come.

The full press release is available here.

July 19, 2014 - USA Today: Stone Brewing Plans to Open a Brewery in Berlin
Stone Brewing is taking its craft to Germany, a country with some of the deepest brewing roots in the world.

The Escondido, Calif.-based Stone, which is ranked No. 10 in sales volume among U.S. craft breweries, plans to open a brewery in Berlin within the next two years. The move makes it the first American craft brewer to independently own and operate a brewery in Europe.

Plans were announced Saturday during an event at the planned site in Berlin. Construction is likely to begin in the coming months, aiming for an opening in late 2015 or early 2016, says Stone CEO Greg Koch.

He and Stone President Steve Wagner, who co-founded the original California site in 1996, began talking about European expansion five years ago....

Read the rest of the story here.

July 11, 2014 - Sly Fox To Move Bock Fest & Goat Races to Pottstown [UPDATED]
UPDATE: It's now official that the move will be made and that East Pikeland asked Sly Fox to find a new home for the Bock Fest per a news release just received.
POTTSTOWN — If Jixxer hopes to repeat as Sly Fox Goat Race champion or Spartacus wins legitimately, it appears that it will have to be done in Pottstown, not East Pikeland, next year.

Sly Fox has let borough officials in Pottstown know of plans to move the annual spring Bockfest to Pottstown’s Circle of Progress from its traditional location in Phoenixville.... Read the whole story here.

July 10, 2014 - Harpoon Brewery Will Become Employee-Owned
Twelfth-largest craft brewer Harpoon Brewery has just announced that it will become an employee-owned company as of August 1. The existing shareholder group transferred 48% of Harpoon's shares to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which will "ensure the brewery's independence and preserve Harpoon's culture."

As for other major changes: co-founder Dan Kenary will assume the role of CEO from co-founder Rich Doyle, who will reportedly maintain part-time status at the brewery, focusing on marketing and sales and new business development. No other changes in management are reported so far.

"This is a big transition for the company and for me, but it feels like the right thing at the right time," Rich said in a statement. "I have enjoyed my 28 years working here and building a first-class brewing company from idea to reality. The ESOP will really fit the culture here since Harpoon has always been a very team-oriented place. Dan and the Harpoon team will continue to do an excellent job."

For his part, Dan said that "employee ownership is the embodiment of what Harpoon stands for. ... Our success as an independent craft brewer is attributed to our outstanding employees and the wonderful culture we have at the brewery. The ESOP strengthens our commitment to our employees, our culture, and to making and sharing great beer."

The Harpoon Brewery was founded in 1986 on the Boston waterfront by Dan Kenary and Rich Doyle. It has since grown to be the 12th largest craft brewery in the US and currently has 187 full-time employees between its Boston, MA and Windsor, VT brewing facilities.

The announcement of the ESOP was made to Harpoon employees at a special mid-year meeting on the evening of July 9th.