Last Call: Anheuser-Busch Strikes Natural Light Hard Seltzer Deal with Big 12

A-B’s Natural Light Hard Seltzer and Big 12 Conference Announce Partnership

Anheuser-Busch and the Big 12 Conference announced a partnership this week to make Natural Light Seltzer the “Official Hard Seltzer of the Big 12 Conference.”

The sponsorship will include elements during games, online and social media, as well as advertising during the conference’s baseball, football, and men’s and women’s basketball championships, according to Forbes. The partnership is solely with the athletic conference, not the 10 universities within the league, the outlet noted.

Ricardo Marques, vice president of core and value brands at Anheuser-Busch, told Forbes that the sponsorships would help increase Natural Light Hard Seltzer’s market share due to hard seltzer being “still in its early days as awareness.”

“Natural Light is a brand that represents the fun-loving lifestyle of college and young, legal-age drinkers,” Marques said. “We’ve seen a great reaction to Natural Light Seltzer within the first several weeks of the football season, and this partnership will continue to introduce more sports fans to Natural Light Seltzer, while adding our brand energy to the college football experience.”

The deal is the latest is an ongoing trend of hard seltzer brands partnering with sports leagues and teams, including Boston Beer’s Truly Hard Seltzer being named the “official hard seltzer” of the National Hockey League earlier this week.

Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors Corn Syrup Lawsuit Continues

Oral arguments took place earlier this week in the legal battle over Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light advertisements targeting MillerCoors’ use of corn syrup in the brewing process of flagship Miller Lite and Coors Light offerings. An attorney for A-B argued before the Seventh Circuit that information used in the Bud Light campaign, which first aired during the 2019 Super Bowl, came from MillerCoors’ website, according to Law 360.

In May, a federal judge ruled that A-B had to shut down certain portions of the ad campaign, claiming MillerLite and Coors Light were made using corn syrup, according to Law 360. Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered that A-B InBev had until March 2, 2020, to sell through its Bud Light packaging containing a “no corn syrup” statement and icon, stating that “a reasonable jury could find that the implicit message of the packaging is that other beers contain corn syrup.”

However, MillerCoors is asking the court to completely shut down the campaign and have Bud Light prove its ads didn’t deceive MillerCoors’ customers.

An attorney for MillerCoors claimed customers did not reach out to the company about corn syrup’s inclusion in its products until the Bud Light commercials began airing. According to Law 360, both companies acknowledged that the use of corn syrup in the brewing process affects beers’ taste.

“If it affects the taste, then it’s the proper subject for comparative advertising when its true,” A-B’s attorney argued.

MillerCoors to Launch 4 New Beers in 2020

In a continuing effort to attract customers favoring better-for-you alcoholic beverage options, MillerCoors has announced the 2020 launch of four new beers from its Coors, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s and Keystone Light brands, according to the MillerCoors blog.

Blue Moon will debut a new brand, Blue Moon Light Sky, a wheat citrus beer checking in at 95 calories and 4% ABV. Coors will launch Coors Peak, a 3.8% ABV, 92-calorie beer made with organic ingredients, in three flavors. Leinenkugel’s will release Spritzen, a 93-calorie mixer with flavored seltzer and a 4.2% ABV.

MillerCoors’ Keystone Light brand will also debut Keylightful, a raspberry lime flavored beer focused on attracting 21- to 24-year-old drinkers.

A-B’s Blue Point Brewery Brewery Property Sold

Brooklyn-based real estate firm Bud and Brewery LLC has purchased the building housing Anheuser-Busch-owned Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue, New York, according to Long Island Business News. Though the deal’s terms were not disclosed, sources told the outlet that the property sold for around $22 million. Blue Point will continue to operate at the location under a long-term lease agreement.

“The ongoing, long-term Blue Point lease has solidified the surging economic fortunes of Patchogue, and the Dolgin family is pleased to be part of this exciting venture,” said Kalmond Dolgin, head of Bud and Brewery, in a company statement.

August US Beer Shipments Decline

For the seventh consecutive month, U.S. beer companies shipped fewers barrels of beer than they did in 2018. The Beer Institute, citing unofficial estimates of domestic tax paid shipments from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, reported that shipments declined 7.3%, to 14,169,000 barrels, in August, the steepest decline to-date this year.

Through the first eight months of 2019, U.S. beer companies have shipped nearly 111.6 million barrels of beer, down about 2.8 million barrels from compared to last year.

Loveland Distributing and Bell’s Brewery Distribution Dispute Continues

The dispute between Virginia-based wholesaler Loveland Distributing and Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery continues, as Premium Distributors of Virginia and Loveland Distributing have filed a petition opposing Bell’s appeal in Richmond Circuit Court, according to Richmond Biz Sense.

Last February, Bell’s Brewery ceased beer shipments to Virginia after attempting to terminate its contract with Loveland, which was acquired in October 2018 by Reyes Beverage Group subsidiary Premium Distributors of Virginia.

In August, Bell’s Brewery filed the petition appealing the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s ruling that it doesn’t have the authority to order arbitration in the Michigan craft brewery’s distribution dispute.

Loveland asked that the court to “allow the case to proceed to a final determination in accordance with the procedures of the Beer Franchise Act and VAPA,” according to the outlet, which would allow the case to be heard again by the Virginia ABC.

A-B Announces Offer Price, Allotment Results of Asia-Pacific IPO

After resuming its application to list a minority stake of Asia Pacific (APAC) subsidiary, Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Limited, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced today the allotment results for the IPO.

According to a press release, the final number of offer shares is 72,586,000 under the Hong Kong IPO and 1,379,118,000 under the international IPO. Both shares were oversubscribed, according to the company.

A-B InBev estimates net proceeds to be $4.9 billion USD, and if the over-allotment option is fully exercised, the company estimates the addition of $739 million in net proceeds, which it will use to repay debt.

A-B InBev plans to list the offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on September 30.

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