Last Call: California ABC Uncovers Brewpub Violations; Wiseacre Receives Investment from Family Office

A statewide investigation by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) into 70 brewpubs with “Type 75” licenses uncovered violations by nearly 50 of the licensees.

As Brewbound reported in late July, the Type 75 retail restaurant license gives brewpubs the ability to produce between 100 and 5,000 barrels annually. However, some business owners sought to obtain the licenses with the primary intent to sell spirits.

The investigation found that nearly 50 licensees were either not brewing beer, not meeting the quotas or not functioning as a brewpub.

“This statewide investigation makes it clear that the ABC is committed to protecting the integrity of the craft beer industry and expects licensees to be compliant with the law in order to sustain a fair and healthy marketplace,” ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith said, via a press release. “The department prefers increased compliance through education but will use enforcement tools to ensure compliance.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law in September allowing Type 75 licensees to sell their products for off-premise consumption. The law also tightened requirements for obtaining the license, requiring license holders to operate at least a 7-barrel brewing system and produce and sell at least 200 barrels annually.

Previously, Type 75 licensees were required to produce at least 100 barrels per year, with no sales requirements. That led some business owners to seek the licenses, which cost about $14,000, instead of obtaining liquor license, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More than 1,200 Breweries Join Sierra Nevada Wildfire Relief Project

More than 1,200 breweries have signed up to brew a special IPA, created by Sierra Nevada in an effort to raise money for wildfire relief. As part of those efforts, beer companies will brew the same beer and donate proceeds to the Camp Fire Relief Fund, which supports those affected by the California wildfire that killed 88 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman wrote that his company will donate 100 percent of sales from Resilience Butte County Proud IPA to the fund.

“Our hope is to get Resilience IPA in taprooms all over the country to create a solid start for our community’s future,” Grossman wrote.

Brewers large and small have agreed to participate.

Earlier this month, the Grossman family announced the formation of the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund, via the Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation, and seeded the fund with $100,000. Berkeley, California-based Trumer Brewery has also pledged a matching $100,000 donation to the fund.

Wiseacre Sells Minority Interest to Family Office

Memphis-based Wiseacre Brewing Company has sold a minority interest to family office Kemmons Wilson Cos. (KWC), according to the Memphis Business Journal.

The injection of capital will reportedly help fuel the buildout of a 40,000 sq. ft. production facility on a 2.5 acre plot south of the FedExForum in downtown Memphis. That facility will have a scalable capacity of 80,000 barrels. Last year, the company produced about 20,000 barrels.

Construction on the project is slated to commence by the end of the year.

KWC’s other investments include Holiday Inn, the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, Wilson Air Center, and Central BBQ, among other properties.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified KWC as a private equity firm. 

Duvel Moortgat Invests in Jarr Kombucha

Duvel Moortgat has acquired a 60 percent majority stake in London-headquartered JARR Kombucha, according to the Brussels Times.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, in a press release, Duvel said the company’s founders will remain in control the of the operation’s brewing, marketing and sales.

“The way of producing kombucha is very similar to that of beer. It is the result of all natural ingredients brewed to a tasteful drink by highly passionate people,” Duvel Moortgat CEO Michel Moortgat said, via a press release. “We can now offer our consumers a different yet equally high quality brewed premium drink.”

Duvel — which owns U.S. craft breweries Boulevard, Firestone Walker and Brewery Ommegang — plans to help the makers of the 3-year-old fermented tea company increase production with an investment in the company’s London manufacturing facility. The investment will also help the Kombucha maker expand its footprint throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and other international markets.

LibDib, RNDC Strike Partnership

Liberation Distribution (LibDib) has formed a “strategic partnership” with Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) that will allow the Silicon Valley-based web-based distribution platform to expand distribution for its wine and spirits clients into the wholesalers’ 22-state footprint.

Previously, LibDib’s online platform helped smaller alcohol brands obtain market access in California and New York. The partnership with RNDC will allow both companies to expand web-based, three-tier distribution, while also providing RNDC and its clients with access to tech and data, the companies said in a press release.

The partnership, however, will not affect either companies’ beer brands.

“Moving forward, we’ll have to determine beer distribution on a state by state (or market by market) basis,” LibDib senior director of marketing Holly Nuss told Brewbound, via email.

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