Last Call: Bell’s Heads to Oklahoma; Drizly Reports Data Breach; Fermented Sciences Receives $10 Million Infusion

Bell’s Brewery Adds Distribution in Oklahoma

Kalamazoo, Michigan-headquartered Bell’s Brewery will enter its 42nd state later this year, with the addition of distribution to Oklahoma. Bell’s, the seventh largest Brewers-Association-defined craft brewery, will be partnering with Republic National Distribution Company of Oklahoma.

“We are excited to come to the great state of Oklahoma. In a year when so much has changed for our business and industry, we’re excited to share our beer with new craft beer lovers.” Bell’s founder and president Larry Bell said in a press release.

Bell’s flagship offerings — Two Hearted Ale, Official, and Light Hearted as well as summer seasonal Oberon — will be sold in Oklahoma.

News of the addition of Oklahoma comes more than a year after Bells’ notified its Virginia wholesalers of termination following a dispute over the attempted sale of its distribution rights to a subsidiary of the Reyes Beverage Group.

“We continue to defend ourselves in the suit in Virginia,” Bell said in a statement shared with Brewbound. “The wheels of justice move slowly, especially during a pandemic.”

Drizly Data Breach Affects 2.4 Million Accounts

Drizly, the on-demand e-commerce marketplace for delivery of alcoholic beverages, earlier this week reported a data breach that affected 2.4 million accounts.

In a statement to Brewbound, the Boston-based firm said it first identified that customer data may have been breached on July 13 and began a forensic investigation with cyber security experts. The company said it also “took steps to tighten security and further reduce risk of attack.”

“Email address, phone number and birthdate data was obtained and delivery address information was included in a small fraction, under 2%, of the records,” the company said. “It’s critical to point out that, with 100% certainty, no financial information — from neither credit nor debit cards — was compromised. Hashed passwords were taken, though since we use BCrypt, an industry favored hashing algorithm, to encrypt the passwords, Drizly accounts should not be able to be accessed.”

Drizly said its investigation into the breach is ongoing, and it has hired a cyber security firm to identify all of the affected parties. Drizly encouraged its users to reset their passwords, monitor their accounts for unusual activity and report suspicious activity to support@drizly.com.

“We take issues like this with the utmost seriousness and our security team has already implemented additional measures to help ensure that something like this does not happen again,” the company said.

US Brewers Ship 16.6 Million Barrels in June

Shipments from U.S. brewers in June increased 4.4%, to 16.6 million barrels, compared to June 2019, according to the Beer Institute (BI), which shared unofficial estimates of domestic tax paid shipments compiled by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

The BI once again cautioned that there will likely be “significant revisions” to the estimates for March, April, May and June due to the TTB postponing reporting requirement for filing and payments for up to 90 days.

Nevertheless, June 2020 is the first month of the year in which shipments exceeded those with the same corresponding month in 2019. Year-to-date, U.S. brewers have shipped 83,551,325 barrels of beer, a decline of 1.4% (or nearly 1.2 million barrels) compared to 2019.

The June numbers follow a 1 million barrel decline in shipments in May 2020 and a 700,000 barrel decline in April 2020, which coincides with the shutdown of the on-premise channel across the U.S. caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida Guild Pleads for Help from Governor, Regulatory Body

“The entire Florida craft brewing industry is now in jeopardy,” the Florida Brewers Guild wrote last week in a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The guild reported that the number of breweries in the Sunshine State has declined for the first time in recent history, and the guild fears that “this trend will rapidly accelerate if we do not find a way to balance the health of our community with the economics of our industry.”

According to the guild, the majority of its 320 members, which account for 10,000 jobs, are operating entirely on a to-go sales model.

“This constitutes less than 10% of our collective sales and is an untenable model for our industry,” the guild wrote.

Although some breweries are permitted to operate for on-premise consumption under an exemption with a food license, most are not. Those who are not, had been able to operate by partnering with a food truck, however, that exemption was eliminated.

The guild added that internal polling of its members found that more than 100 breweries could close permanently if the current restrictions continue and they don’t receive relief.

Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, is expected to meet with brewery owners today, according to WJCT.

In late June, the state of Florida ceased on-site consumption at bars.

Flying Embers Parent Company Closes $10 Million Funding Round; Launches Hard Seltzer

Fermented Sciences, the parent company of hard kombucha maker Flying Embers, has closed on a $10 million funding round, increasing the amount of Series B funding to $35 million, according to a press release.

The funding round was led by Santo Domingo Group — notable for being the largest individual shareholder of the world’s largest beer manufacturer, Anheuser-Busch InBev — and included existing Flying Embers investors Ecosystem Integrity Fund and PowerPlant Ventures, among others. That investment will help the brand’s expansion into the billion-plus dollar hard seltzer segment.

“This new funding will help Flying Embers continue our rapid nationwide expansion, refine our manufacturing capabilities, further build our direct-to-consumer business and launch breakthrough innovations in new alcohol categories,” Flying Embers founder and CEO Bill Moses said in release.

Moses added that the investment round “adds to our existing war chest to support the business over a long period of time.”

Whipstitch Capital served as an advisor to Fermented Sciences.

Flying Embers touts its hard seltzer line as “the world’s first probiotic-powered hard seltzer with antioxidants and all USDA organic ingredients.” The hard seltzer checks in at 95 calories with zero sugars or carbs. The product will launch in two 6-pack variety pack. The “Tropicals: Sweet & Heat Collection” includes Watermelon Chili, Pineapple Cayenne and Guava Jalapeno, while the “Botanicals: Fruit & Flora Collection” will feature Black Cherry Rose, Clementine Hibiscus and Passionfruit Elderflower.

Suntory Launches All Free Non-Alcoholic Beer

Japan’s Suntory is entering the non-alcoholic beer field in the U.S. with All Free.

The company calls All Free a “crisp and light refreshment.” The n/a beer checks in at zero calories, and no sugar, artificial sweeteners or artificial flavors.

The company’s goal is to reach around 15,000 case equivalents in sales per month this year. All Free will be sold in 4- and 6-packs nationwide via Amazon.com and Total Wine & More, as well as BevMo stores in California and Arizona and select Ralphs stores in the Los Angeles area.

Skull Mechanix Closes Permanently; Moustache Brewing Files for Chapter 11

Austin, Texas-based Skull Mechanix Brewing has permanently closed, citing “the economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The craft brewery made the announcement on social media earlier this week. The 2-year-old company said it was “gearing up for a huge 2020,” with brands booked for its music week, events planned for the month of the Craft Brewers Conference, private events booked.

“Things were starting to take off,” the company said. “We did not plan, however, for a deadly virus to come to town and shutter everything that we were designed for. We knew right away that our concept would be the heaviest hit. We did what we thought was right and shut down music immediately. Shortly after that we closed the taproom. Maybe we took a little too long to release beer-to-go, but we don’t have a canning line and we didn’t want to make any mistakes that could possibly hurt someone. That’s a lot of pressure and a new responsibility that we were not prepared for. In the end, to-go beer was never going to save us and things were (are) progressively getting worse.”

Two out of three Texas craft breweries reported to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild that their businesses wouldn’t’ survive through the end of the year if the business climate in the state didn’t change or breweries weren’t offered relief.

Meanwhile, Long Island’s Moustache Brewing has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to COVID-19 related shutdowns and a judgment over a 2018 renovation loan, according to Newsday.

The brewery, which was shut down from April through Memorial Day weekend, plans to continue operations through the reorganization, the outlet reported.

Public Consumption on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk a Signature Away

Public consumption of alcoholic beverages on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk and in other tourist areas is just a signature away, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

The New Jersey state Senate on Thursday passed legislation to allow consumption, and now it advances Gov. Phil Murphy for final approval.

The ability for legal drinking age adults to buy, drink and walk around with alcoholic beverages in designated areas is seen as a way of giving the area an economic shot in the arm, the outlet reported. Click here for more details.

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