Last Call: The Alchemist to Open Stowe Brewery this Summer; Ballast Point to Open LA Location


Heady Topper to be Sold Direct Once Again

Currently slated for an early July opening, The Alchemist’s new brewery and visitor center in Stowe, Vermont will once again give thirsty beer travelers an opportunity to purchase the popular Heady Topper double IPA directly from the source.

The company, which currently produces all of its beer out its Waterbury cannery, suspended retail operations at that location in 2013 after neighbors complained about the volume of customers visiting the brewery to purchase cases of the cult beer. As a result, The Alchemist began selling all of its beer to on and off-premise retailers throughout Vermont.

But that will change when Alchemist owners Jen and John Kimmich open a new 15,000 sq. ft. brewery and retail store. The company said it plans to pull back about 30 percent of its distribution to service demand at its own retail storefront, which will stock Heady Topper as well Focal Banger IPA year-round.

“Although we could probably sell all Heady Topper out of our new retail shop, we have decided to maintain our distribution for a few reasons,” Jen Kimmich wrote on the company’s blog. “We have worked hard to build relationships with our local retailers and restaurants. With our local economies in mind, we don’t want to cut Heady Topper out of distribution. Many of our accounts have experienced significant increases in craft beer sales and foot traffic. This is a phenomenon in which we take great pride.”

In the same blog entry, Kimmich also explained The Alchemist’s initial allocation plans:

“We want to spread our beer out as much as possible,” she wrote. “We also want to make sure our customers and beer enthusiasts can purchase enough beer so that the visit is worthwhile.”

So when the brewery opens this summer, it will allow customers to purchase one case of Focal Banger and one mixed case of Heady Topper and a rotating specialty offering. 4-packs of Heady Topper, filled in 16 oz. cans, will retail for $12.50 each. A limit of three Heady Topper 4-packs per person will be enforced

The new location will not sell full pours but it will sell sample glasses of beer to taste.

Ballast Point to Open LA Taproom

San Diego’s Ballast Point is heading north.

The brewery, known as much for its popular Sculpin IPA as its $1 billion sale to Constellation Brands last year, will move into an 11,000 sq. ft. restaurant in Long Beach, according to the LA Times.

The company has also applied for a brewing permit at the location, the Times notes.

Ballast Point is no stranger to operating multiple venues — it currently boasts five locations in the San Diego area, including its Miramar and Scripps Ranch breweries as well as its Little Italy, Home Brew Mart and Temecula tasting rooms.

It’s worth noting that current California law restricts manufacturers to a maximum of six “branch offices” with a “duplicate” license issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, but breweries are allowed to operate more than six locations that also feature brewing equipment.

Legislative Roundup

Three noteworthy bills with implications for the craft brewers moved forward this week in Colorado, Ohio and Missouri.

In Colorado, a bill that would enable grocery stores and chain retailers to sell full-strength beer and wine passed the House Wednesday.

Budweiser Craft Cooler

The bill would give large retailers such as Target the ability to acquire up to 20 retail licenses by 2037 and an option to purchase an unlimited amount of licenses after that. It has been billed as a “compromise,” because it would also allow liquor stores an option to purchase three additional licenses and because it requires chain retailers to buy out a liquor stores’ license if they are within 1,500 feet of the chain’s location.

Currently, grocery stores are only allowed to sell beer that checks in at 3.2 percent ABV or lower.

Opponents of the bill say that it would limit consumer choice and run independent retail shop out of business. Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper, who founded the Wynkoop Brewery, said he is unsure if he would sign the bill.

Meanwhile, in a unanimous vote Wednesday, the Ohio Senate approved an amendment that would remove ABV restrictions placed on small breweries.

Sen. Cliff Hite (R-Findlay), believes the measure will encourage continued growth of craft beer and enable small brewers to expand their operations.

Ohio breweries are not currently allowed to brew beers that exceed 12 percent ABV.

Finally, in Missouri, the House approved Senate Bill 919 which would allow breweries to lease coolers to retailers. The bill is now headed to to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In addition to the equipment-leasing provision, the bill also gives Missouri retailers the right to fill and sell growlers — between 32 oz. and 128 oz. of packaged draft beer per customer — for off premise consumption.