Last Call: Actual Brewing Files for Bankruptcy; Beer Sales Grow in January

In the wake of sexual assault allegations against Actual Brewing Company founder Fred Lee, the Columbus, Ohio-based craft beer company has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to Columbus Business First.

Citing financial filings in the case, the outlet reported that Actual Brewing lost $558,080 in 2018 and $255,225 in 2016 (2017 numbers were not disclosed). The company reported assets of between $500,000 and $1 million as well as liabilities of between $500,000 and $1 million.

Actual’s largest unsecured claim is a $100,000 loan made by John Dilley, Business First reported. The company also owes federal taxes of $55,000 and thousands of dollars to other creditors, including the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services ($3,750), the city of Columbus ($3,500), Keg Logistics ($21,392), mobile canner Iron Heart Canning ($5,087), and its landlord, Plaza Properties ($39,068).

A 2016 tax filing revealed that 54 people invested in Actual Brewing, but Business First cited sources saying the Lee and his wife, Mira Lee, who is also an owner, had accepted additional investments that diluted their share of the company to about 30 percent.

Lee previously stepped down as CEO after Columbus Alive reported that numerous women alleged Lee sexually assaulted or harassed them. Lee has denied the claims.

Meanwhile, the company is facing a civil lawsuit from an investor attempting to recoup $50,000, the outlet reported.

Northern Eagle Beverage Acquires New Jersey A-B Wholesaler

Northern Eagle Beverage Co. today announced the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch Sales of New Jersey, a Jersey City-based wholly-owned distributor, according to a press release.

Northern Eagle, a 26-year-old, family-owned wholesaler, said the transaction is expected to close in March.

In a statement, A-B called Northern Eagle a “trusted and highly effective” partner of more than two decades, noting that Northern Eagle purchased a portion of A-B’s New Jersey territory in 2015.

“We’re now expanding that successful partnership as a logical extension of that initial purchase,” A-B added.

Nevertheless, the divestiture does raise questions about A-B’s next potential move. Included among the conditions in last October’s final judgment approving A-B’s MegaBrew merger with SABMiller is an agreement that the global beer giant cannot purchase a beer wholesaler if the acquisition would result in more than 10 percent of its U.S. volume being sold via wholly-owned distribution companies.

In 2015, A-B swapped ownership of a wholly-owned distribution outfit in Kentucky for three Colorado operations owned by Texas-based Standard Sales Company. As the pace of middle-tier consolidation picks up, it’s possible A-B could look to buy a wholesaler in another market, while still remaining under the 10 percent threshold established by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nielsen: Off-Premise Beer Category Sales Up 4.7 Percent in January

Dollar sales of beer, cider and flavored malt beverages grew 4.7 percent, to more than $2.5 billion, through the first four weeks of 2019, according to market research firm Nielsen, which tracks category-wide sales at major off-premise retailers.

Through January 26, beer dollar sales grew 3.4 percent, to more than $2.3 billion. Segments growing dollar sales included hard seltzer (+246.8 percent), cider (+6.6 percent), domestic super premiums (+20.6 percent), near beer (+4.1 percent), domestics (+3.2 percent), imports (+11 percent) and craft beer (+0.8 percent).

As for craft styles, IPA dollar sales grew 10.6 percent, to more than $119 million, in January, while sour ale dollar sales grew 12.3 percent, to about $1.9 million. Meanwhile, dollar sales of craft 15-packs grew 68.6 percent, to more than $11.5 million, during the first four-weeks of the years.

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Molson Coors

Molson Coors is facing a class-action lawsuit for overstating its net income by nearly $400 million in 2016, according to the Denver Post.

In an SEC filing last week, Molson Coors blamed accounting errors with inflating its net income totals and understating its tax liabilities in 2016. Additional accounting errors in 2017 led to overstated tax expenses as well as understated net income and deferred tax liability, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit claims that Molson Coors — whose flagship products include Miller Lite and Coors Light — as well as CEO Mark Hunter and CFO Tracey Joubert engaged in a scheme to deceive investors by knowingly or deliberately disregarding that the company’s financial statement contained errors and misleading statements.

Arcadia Brewing Tax Foreclosure Looms

Michigan’s Arcadia Brewing Company is facing a possible tax foreclosure due to more than $5,000 in delinquent 2016 property taxes, according to MLive.com.

Arcadia has until April 1 to pay its $5,163.63 tax bill from 2016 or its property could be forfeited to the Kalamazoo County Treasurer’s office, MLive.com reported. However, Arcadia’s mortgage holder, First National Bank of Michigan, could pay off the taxes prior to the deadline in order to protect its investment in the property, MLive.com said.

Arcadia owes an additional $90,740.20 for property taxes in 2017, the outlet reported.

Nevertheless, Arcadia founder and CEO Tim Suprise has said he’s negotiating with a strategic partner to avert foreclosure. Arcadia’s financial woes surfaced in December, as the company owes more than $1.4 million on its mortgage with First National Bank of Michigan.

Other Half Hires Eric Salazar Away From New Belgium

After a 23-year career at New Belgium, Eric Salazar has departed the Fort Collins-headquartered craft brewery to join New York’s Other Half Brewing and lead its wood-aged and wild ale program, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.

“He’s going to help us reimagine what we want this program to look like,” Other Half co-founder and brewmaster Sam Richardson told the outlet.

However, Other Half has yet to establish a home for its nascent sour production, which it is currently searching for. For his part, Salazar, who departed New Belgium at the beginning of the year, told the Democrat & Chronicle that he and his wife, Amy, were looking to move to the East Coast to be closer to her family.

Two Roads Expands into Western Ohio and Kentucky

Stratford, Connecticut-based Two Roads Brewing Co. is partnering with Heidelberg Distributing to begin selling its products in western Ohio — including Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo — as well as statewide in Kentucky, according to Westfair Business Publications.

Two Roads’ offerings are now sold in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

Brewery Ommegang Cancels Festival

New York-based Brewery Ommegang has canceled the 2019 edition of its popular Belgium Comes to Cooperstown beer festival.

“You’ve likely noticed that over the past 12 months, we’ve renovated our home with the expansion of our Tap House, and we’ve renovated our branding, with fresh new labels, packaging and tap handles,” the company announced on Facebook. “In this same vein, we feel it’s time to renovate our biggest event.”

Brewery Ommegang, which is owned by Duvel Moortgat, said it plans to bring back the 20-year-old festival in 2020.

Scout Distributing Profiles Juneshine Hard Kombucha

Scout Distributing co-founder and CEO Josh Landan has released a video profiling San Diego hard kombucha brand Juneshine. Landan, who founded Saint Archer and later sold it to MillerCoors, plans to release a series of videos spotlighting the young distributor’s brands, including Topa Topa, Abnormal Beer Co. and Harland Brewing, which he also founded.

Juneshine recently announced the closing of a seed round of funding and the acquisition of the Ballast Point Scripps Ranch facility.

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