Last Call: Axle Brewing Seeks Buyer; Texas Governor to Legalize Beer-to-Go Sales

Axle Brewing to Close, Seeks Buyer

Michigan’s Axle Brewing is searching for a buyer, as the company prepares to close its Ferndale-based taproom at the end of June.

In a press release issued Monday, Axle Brewing president Dan Riley said the company hopes to “secure a strategic partner or buyer” who shares its values.

“We’ve had limited conversations with interested companies, but it’s important for us to entertain all possible options,” Riley said in the release. “We want our loyal guests and partners to have the opportunity to say goodbye, our team to have a graceful transition, and for us to honor commitments we’ve made, so we will be spending the next month celebrating as we determine what’s next.”

Nevertheless, Axle Brewing plans to “cease full service operations” at the end of June as it restructures. According to Riley, the company “struggled early on to gain momentum in distribution” and then its taproom operation was hampered by nearby construction.

Riley added that Axle’s “current cost structure and very lean margins on the distribution side” of the business left it without “a clear path to profitability.” Nevertheless, Riley told the Detroit Free Press that the company wasn’t carrying debt and would not be filing for bankruptcy.

Texas Governor to Sign Beer-to-Go into Law

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will officially make beer-to-go sales at the state’s manufacturing breweries legal during a June 15 signing ceremony at Austin Beerworks.

Abbott’s signature will allow consumers to purchase up to one case of beer (288 fl. oz.) per day from the state’s manufacturing breweries, starting September 1, 2019. Those sales would count against a 5,000-barrel cap that is already in place for on-premise taproom sales at those breweries.

His signature will also ensure operations of the state’s alcohol regulatory body, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), will continue.

Lupulin Brewing Co. to Acquire Hydra Beer Co.

Big Lake, Minnesota-based Lupulin Brewing Co. reached an agreement last week to acquire Hydra Beer Co. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the company announced on its social media channels.

The transaction is expected to close in about eight weeks, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Once complete, Hydra’s brewery and taproom will be rebranded as a Lupulin outpost.

In May, Hydra founders Chad Petit and Nick Murphy announced that they had stopped making beer and planned to sell the 4-year-old business, the outlet reported. Both cited moving on to other careers as the reasons behind the closure and subsequent sale.

Former A-B North American CEO Joins Kraft Heinz Board

Another ex-Anheuser-Busch InBev executive is joining The Kraft Heinz Company just two months after the consumer products giant tapped former A-B InBev CMO Miguel Patricio as its next CEO.

Joao Castro-Neves, the former CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s North American business, officially joined Kraft Heinz’s board of directors on June 12, according to a press release.

Castro-Neves departed the world’s largest beer manufacturer in November 2017 after 22 years. Michel Doukeris was named Castro-Neves’ replacement.

In a press release, Kraft Heinz chairman of the board Alex Behring said the company was “thrilled” to add Castro-Neves to the board due to his “significant consumer sector expertise.”

In April, Patricio, who spent about two decades with A-B, was named as the successor to CEO Bernardo Hees, who will vacate the top executive role on July 1.

Yards Brewing Begins Offering Contract Brewing Services

Philadelphia’s Yards Brewing Company is now offering contract brewing services to fill about 60,000 barrels of excess capacity.

Yards, which opened a 70,000 sq. ft. production facility and taproom in November 2017, has about 100,000 barrels of annual capacity. Last year, Yards’ production declined 2 percent, to 40,296 barrels, according to data from the Brewers Association.

Yards said its first client is New Jersey’s Cape May Brewing Company, according to a press release on the Brewers of PA website. The company is seeking additional partners.

Craft Breweries Close in San Diego, St. Paul and Indianapolis

A handful of craft breweries have closed their doors in the last two weeks.

San Diego’s Benchmark Brewing Company announced via Facebook that it was permanently closing on June 9 after six years in business. According to West Coaster, Benchmark founders Matt and Rachael Akin had dealt with several “financial difficulties” over the past few months.

Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, restaurant chain Scotty’s Brewhouse closed one of its Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. brewpubs on June 9 after eight years, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. Scotty’s other Thr3e Wise Men location in Muncie will sell through its inventory before transitioning to a menu of about 20 craft beers from outside companies, the outlet said.

St. Paul-based 12welve Eyes Brewing also closed on June 4 after nearly two years in business, according to an Instagram post. Details of 12welve Eyes’ demise were sparse.

Finally, Ghost Brewing LLC acquired the assets of shuttered Maryland beer company Rubber Soul Brewing for $205,000 in May, with plans to revive the brand in the Hummelstown borough of Pennsylvania, according to PennLive.

Salisbury, Maryland-based Rubber Soul closed after seven years in late April after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to Delmarva Now.

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