Last Call: 3 Colorado Breweries to Close; Sierra Nevada Seeks Camp Fire Pledges

Three Colorado craft breweries are in the process of closing their doors, including Boulder’s Fate Brewing.

In a Facebook message published on Monday, Fate Brewing announced it would close on May 27. The 6-year-old craft brewery’s financial struggles have been well-chronicled, following a November 2018 bankruptcy filing. According to the Denver Post, Fate owes its creditors about $4.2 million.

In the Facebook post, Fate founder Mike Lawinski attributed the company’s decline to an inability to receive federal approval for a brewing operation located in the former Avery Brewing production facility in Boulder. He also blamed “inaccurate coverage, reporting errors and negative targeting” by the Boulder Daily Camera, which he claimed “had a significant impact” on Fate’s business and “correlates directly with a noticeable decrease in our volume, attrition of staff, misconception of closure, brand confusion and challenges for our team.”

Citing bankruptcy filings, the Denver Post reported that after recording profits of $9,554 and $14,170 in November and December, respectively, the company lost nearly $125,000 through the first three months of 2019.

In April, Lawinski sold the rights to use the “Fate Brewing” name to Arizona’s McFate Brewing for $20,000. Lawinski had previously sued McFate for using the name in 2016.

Meanwhile, the city of Lakewood seized the Ironworks Brewery & Pub due to unpaid sales taxes, according to Business Den.

Ironworks owner Mike Mader hasn’t been paying sales tax to the city for 10 months, that outlet reported, and the business owes more than $15,400. An official with the city added that the 30-year-old Ironworks is one of the largest delinquent accounts in the city, Business Den wrote. Despite working out payment plans with the city, Mader reportedly bounced checks to the city.

A series of now-deleted posts to Ironworks’ Twitter account stated that at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, “five armed police officers and a tax enforcement official seized the brewery and changed the locks, and ushered the employees out.”

Another post alleged that after “many years of lies, theft, fraud and financial mismanagement,” Mader had “cleaned out the safe Sunday night and fled into hiding presumable [sic] atg [sic] his mothers [sic] house” in Greeley.

“None of the employees has been paid in the last several months, as well as he stopped paying their payroll taxes over the last year, multiple customers were convinced to loan him money, as an ‘investment’ and were defrauded,” the final Twitter post claimed.

Finally, Littlejohn, Colorado-based 38 State Brewing announced it would close on May 31, after eight years in business, according to the Denver Westword newspaper.

Sierra Nevada Asks Breweries to Honor Camp Fire Pledges

Sierra Nevada Brewing is still waiting for more than half of the breweries that agreed to brew Resilience IPA and donate the proceeds to the relief efforts of last year’s Camp Fire wildfire to submit their donations, according to a company letter.

“Though we have and continue to do good work to get our community back on its feet, this is a long-term process,” Sierra Grossman, brewery co-owner and daughter of founder Ken Grossman, wrote in the letter, which was obtained by WorstBeerBlog. “Those funds you pledged are critical to continue our uphill battle.”

Nearly 1,500 craft breweries signed up to brew Resilience IPA as part of Sierra Nevada’s efforts to raise money for the victims of Camp Fire wildfire, which killed 85 people, displaced tens of thousands of residents, and destroyed more than 18,800 structures.

Sierra Nevada told Fortune that it is “actively working” with breweries “to establish realistic timelines for donations.”

“We are however hopeful that those funds will be received as soon as possible so we can continue funding this essential work,” the company told the outlet.

Earlier this year, Sierra Nevada estimated that the Resilience campaign could potentially raise as much as $15 million if the project’s 1,484 breweries produced to their stated commitment levels.

April US Beer Shipments Decline

Shipments from U.S. beer companies declined 0.2 percent in April, to about 14.1 million barrels, according to the Beer Institute (BI), which cited unofficial estimates of domestic tax paid shipments from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

According to BI chief economist Michael Uhrich, consumer spending on domestic beer increased 1.4 percent in April, however. He added that shipments of hard seltzers “are growing fast” as wholesalers build inventories in anticipation of high demand in the summer.

U.S. breweries have shipped nearly 52 million barrels of beer through the first four months of 2019, down 0.4 percent compared to 2018 levels.

Meanwhile, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) — which helps explain U.S. beer distributors’ monthly buying behavior — expanded in April, with a reading of 59.3. A reading above 50 indicates the industry is expanding, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

According to the NBWA, the BPI has surpassed the previous year’s reading every month so far, “suggesting the industry is in slightly better health in 2019.”

Ex-MillerCoors VP Sentenced to Prison Time

Former MillerCoors vice president of sales David Colletti was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for bilking the country’s second-largest beer manufacturer out of more than $8 million over the course of a decade as part of a fraudulent scheme, according to Law 360.

Colletti, who reached a plea deal in 2016, told authorities he recruited people to act as vendors on more than 200 phony invoices. Those fake invoices were then submitted to MillerCoors, which paid Colletti’s phony vendors, who split the proceeds with Colletti.

Colletti had worked for MillerCoors for more than 30 years.

Boston Beer Taproom Opening Delayed

Boston Beer Company’s planned downtown Boston taproom won’t meet an expected summer opening date, according to the Boston Business Journal. The company said the taproom, which has been under construction for more than a year, is now slated to open by November.


CODO on 2019 Craft Beer Trends

Indianapolis branding firm CODO Design has compiled a roundup of craft beer branding trends from 2019.

The firm noted the increasingly difficult task of identifying broader visual trends with more than 7,400 U.S. breweries now in operation. Among the visual trends, CODO pointed to “maximum design, minimal branding,” as one common theme. However, that approach produces vibrant-looking packaging but does not identify the beer maker. The firm also noticed a pattern of “gridded” conveyance of information, which offers a neatly arranged listing of style, ABV, glassware recommendations and other notable facts.

Click here to read about the latest trends.

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