Last Call: Breakside Brewing Implements Employee Stock Ownership Plan; BA Shares Brewery Employee Diversity Data

Breakside Brewing Announces ESOP

Portland, Oregon-based Breakside Brewery closed a deal last week to launch an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), according to the Portland Business Journal.

Breakside founder Scott Lawrence, who started the craft brewery in 2010, told the outlet that he explored other options but ultimately decided that an ESOP was the best option for the brewery’s 160 workers.

“It became more and more evident that I didn’t want to sell to another company or private equity just to get me rich,” he told the Business Journal. “I have a lot of long-term employees, and I wanted to take care of them. This adds a lot of life to the company and gives the staff an awesome program for long-term retirement.”

To initiate the ESOP, Lawrence sold 30% of his 95% stake in Breakside to a trust set up by the company, which is distributing the shares into employee retirement accounts. Employees can cash out their shares when they leave the company. The remaining 5% of the company is owned by Breakside brewmaster Ben Edmunds, Lawrence told the Business Journal.

Other breweries that have implemented ESOPs include Modern Times Beer Co., Mass Bay Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery, Left Hand, New Glarus, Alaskan Brewing Co., Voodoo Brewery, Odell Brewing (partial ownership), New Belgium and Switchback.

Brewers Association Shares Brewery Employee Diversity Data

For the first time, the Brewers Association (BA) has released brewery employee diversity data, including gender, racial and ethnic diversity from respondents across 48 states.

According to the data, brewery employees are disportionately white, with brewery owners and brewers more likely to be white than brewery employees. The BA found that 88% of owners are white, while only 1% of owners and 4% of employees are black. Non-brewing production staff roles had the most diverse make-up: 7.8% of production staff (non-brewers) are Hispanic or Latino, and 4.7% are black or African American. Production staff (non-managers) are also 7% American Indian or Alaskan Native, according to the data.

In terms of gender, the BA’s data showed that 86% of production staff and 77% of owners were male. Only 7.5% of breweries reported employing a female brewer, though non-production positions saw more gender balance, ranging from 62% to 46% male. Meanwhile, 54% of brewery non-manager service staff were women.

MillerCoors, Stone Brewing File for Summary Judgement in Trademark Case

Stone Brewing and MillerCoors have each filed for summary judgement in their ongoing trademark infringement lawsuit, according to Libation Law Blog.

In February 2018, the San Diego-based craft brewery filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors, claiming its rebranded Keystone packaging caused marketplace confusion.

In its latest brief, Stone Brewing claimed that its brand and trademark would be “destroyed” should MillerCoors succeed “in supplanting Stone’s craft beers with Keystone as ‘STONE’ in the minds of consumers.”

Meanwhile, MillerCoors called the lawsuit “a publicity stunt” by Stone and claims that it was the first to use the “Stone” and “Stones” marks.

“Stone Brewing is failing [to] keep pace in an ever more crowded craft beer segment and needed to revitalize its now-outdated image as an iconoclast,” MillerCoors’ brief said. “Stone Brewing’s market is increasingly populated by beers that are rated in official beer tastings as simply better than Stone Brewings’ ‘strong and unapologetically flavorful hops.’”

Stone Brewing’s motion for preliminary injunction to ban the sale of Keystone products prior to a court hearing was denied earlier this year.

Bell’s Brewery and Loveland Distributing Co. Headed to Richmond Circuit Court

The legal dispute between Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery and Richmond, Virginia-based wholesaler Loveland Distributing Co. is heading to Richmond Circuit Court, according to Richmond Biz Sense.

As Brewbound reported in October, when Premium Distributors of Virginia, a subsidiary of the Reyes Beverage Group, reached a deal to acquire Loveland Distributing Co., which had been selling Bell’s beer since 2015. According to reports, Bell’s had been attempting to terminate its contract with Loveland prior to the closing of the transaction due to the wholesaler not sharing crucial information regarding the dea. Bell’s ultimately ceased shipments to the state.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority ordered the sides to enter arbitration in May, however, the ABC reversed course in July, saying only a Virginia circuit or district court could compel arbitration.

Bell’s is appealing the order in hopes that Virginia ABC will determine it does have the authority to order arbitration, which Bells’ and Loveland’s contract calls for in the event of termination.

Guns N’ Roses, CANarchy Settle Lawsuit

Rock band Guns N’ Roses has settled its trademark infringement lawsuit against the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, which sold a rosé beer called “Guns ‘N’ Rosé ale” and merchandise without the band’s permission, according to Reuters. The two sides reached a settlement agreement on July 31, and both sides are currently working on a written settlement that would dismiss the lawsuit, the outlet reported.

San Diego Craft Brewing Industry Generates $1.2 Billion in Economic Impact

The craft brewing industry in San Diego County, comprised of more than 150 breweries, generated $1.2 billion in economic impact, with a revenue of $848 million in 2018, according to a report by the San Diego Brewers Guild and California State University San Marcos. The report found that the growth rate of San Diego breweries was 6% between 2017 and 2018, outpacing the nationwide industry growth rate of 4.8%. The report also found that San Diego brewers’ volume production has also increased 3% since 2017.

Summary Judgement Motions Denied in Platform Beer, Bottle Logic Trademark Dispute

Ohio’s Platform Beer Co., which was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev last week, is currently engaged in a trademark dispute with Anaheim, California-based Bottle Logic over the use of two lightbulb marks in its branding, according to Libation Law Blog. Bottle Logic is refuting Platform’s attempts to register its lightbulb marks, claiming they are too similar to their own and would create confusion. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) denied motions for summary judgement from both sides, and the dispute is now slated to go to trial, according to the outlet.

The TTAB did find that Bottle Logic had priority over the first mark, as its first use in 2013 preceded Platform’s 2014 first use. However, Platform claims it used the second image in the dispute before Bottle Logic.

Former Melvin Pub in Bellingham Renamed

122 West Brewing Co. is the new name of the former Melvin Brewing brewpub in Bellingham, Washington, according to the New School. Washington businessman Gary Pickering purchased the brewpub from the Wyoming-headquartered craft beer company last month, which will no longer be affiliated with Melvin.

Cumberland Farms Files 2020 Ballot Initiative to Lift Cap on Liquor Licenses

Massachusetts-based convenience store chain Cumberland Farms this week filed a proposed 2020 ballot question to lift the cap on the number of liquor licenses a single retailer can hold. Beer and wine is currently sold in just seven of the chain’s 206 Massachusetts stores.

The question proposes a new food store beer and liquor license with no statewide cap that would be subject to local approval. Before hitting the ballot, the proposal must be certified by the attorney general’s office, garner 80,000 signatures, and be presented to the state Legislature.

Beer Tops Wine and Liquor in Gallup Survey

Beer continues to be U.S. drinkers’ favorite adult beverage, according to a Gallup survey of “Consumption Habits” conducted from July 1-12. For the first time in Gallup’s survey, liquor and wine tied for second place.

However, the survey found that middle-aged adults are now less likely to say they prefer beer, and more women choose liquor over beer. The majority of men polled (55%) said beer is their drink of choice, while 45% of women surveyed said they prefer wine. The survey also found that the percentage of Americans who consume alcoholic beverages remains steady at 65%.

Anheuser-Busch Rolls Out Bud Light College Branded Packaging

Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light brand has launched new promotional cans featuring the school colors of six college football programs: Alabama, LSU, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Iowa and Texas Tech. According to Darren Rovell, LSU was the only school that allowed Bud Light to feature its logo on the can.

The introduction of the cans comes several months after the SEC lifted a ban on selling alcohol at university sporting events. According to 247 Sports, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and LSU will allow alcohol sales in their respective stadiums during the 2019 football season. However, Alabama will not.

John Hickenlooper Pulls Plug on Presidential Campaign

John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado and co-founder of Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing Company, ended his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday. In a video titled “Thank You,” Hickenlooper acknowledged the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate. Several party leaders have urged Hickenlooper to run for Senate, sources told CNN.

“People want to know what comes next for me,” he said. “I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought.”

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