Last Call: Constellation Brands Seeks $3 Billion for US Wine Brands; Another Round of Brewery Closures

Constellation Brands Looks to Unload US Wine Brands

Constellation Brands is looking to sell some of its low-end U.S. wine brands such as Mark West, Clos du Bois, Arbor Mist and Cooks for as much as $3 billion, according to Reuters.

Constellation — which sells popular imported Mexican beer labels Corona, Modelo and Pacifico as well as craft offerings from Ballast Point, Funky Buddha and Four Corners — has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to explore a divestiture, the outlet reported.

In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer earlier this week, Bill Newlands, who will succeed Rob Sands as CEO next year, said selling off some of those brands would give Constellation an opportunity either continue investing in high-end brands or to pay down debt.

“Don’t mistake the fact that we believe strongly in the wine business,” he said. “It’s a high-margin business and one that has good growth compared to most CPG areas.”

Watch the video to see Newlands and current CEO Rob Sands discuss Constellation’s investment in cannabis, the momentum of its beer business and more.

New York Prohibition Party Seeks Alcohol Ban

A political party seeking to ban beer, wine and spirits has reformed in New York, according to NYup.com. Dormant since the 1940s, the New York Prohibition Party reemerged in 2017 with a goal of establishing “a lasting prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcohol, to abolish the alcohol industry, and to establish a teetotal culture,” the outlet reported.

The party is targeting Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been a vocal supporter of the state’s craft alcohol industry and given tax credits, grants and other incentives to emerging companies.

“Governor Cuomo is perhaps the worst governor on alcohol issues that our state has had since Herbert Lehman [New York’s governor when Prohibition ended in 1933],” the NY Prohibition Party told NYup.com in a email. “His support for the alcohol industry is unethical and has harmed the people of New York.”

Read more about the group here.

Beer Institute Releases Domestic Tax Paid Estimate for September

U.S. breweries shipped more than 14 million barrels of beer in September, down 2.6 percent compared to 2017 levels, according to the Beer Institute (BI), which cited unofficial estimates of domestic tax paid shipments from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

BI chief economist Michael Uhrich explained that September was missing “a critical selling day, the Friday before Labor Day.”

Through the first nine months of 2018, U.S. brewers shipped nearly 128.5 million barrels of beer, down 2.1 percent from 2017 levels when beer companies shipped more than 131.1 million barrels.

BrewDog to Fly UK Investors to Ohio

BrewDog is getting into the airline business… sort of. The Scottish craft beer makers announced an exclusive trip for its Equity for Punks investors to go from London to Ohio, on February 21st through the 25th.

“Our shareholders are involved in every aspect of our business – for a chance to check out our Columbus brewery like never before, there’s no better way to travel than with BrewDog Airlines,” the company wrote on its website.

BrewDog said it would give travelers a behind-the-scenes look at its Columbus brewery as well as tours of other breweries in the region.

Read more details here.

Golden Road Pulls Plug on Oakland Beer Garden; Modern Times to Open Location Nearby

Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Golden Road Brewing has scrapped plans to open a beer garden in Oakland after facing backlash from local residents, Berkeleyside.com’s “Nosh” website reported.

After more than a year of trying to ease neighbors’ concerns and revising plans for the project, the company said it would not proceed with its plans for the beer garden, instead shifting its focus to “other projects.”

Nevertheless, San Diego-headquartered Modern Times Beer is planning to open “something” in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood, about 3 miles away from the proposed Golden Road location, according to Eater San Francisco. The company has reportedly filed for a beer manufacturer liquor license that would allow it to serve beer and wine in a taproom.

Rivertowne Sale Delayed

The bankruptcy sale of Pennsylvania’s Rivertowne Brewery has been delayed as the court sorts out claims against the brewery’s owners, according to TribLive.com.

Arnie Burchianti, who would become the majority owner of Rivertowne and Helltown through his Brewery Acquisition Co., told Brewbound that the sale is “slowly progressing.” The next court hearing in front of the judge it set for November 1.

U.S. bankruptcy judge Gregory Taddonio cautioned the brewery’s owners and creditors that further delays of the $2.1 million sale could be costly and devalue the assets if a deal falls through, TribLive.com reported.

Brewery Closures in Oregon, Wisconsin and the Carolinas

After 22 years, Portland, Oregon-based Alameda Brewhouse will close on November 3, according to a post on the brewery’s Facebook page.

Alameda owner Matt Schumacher told The Oregonian that “legal reasons prevented him from commenting” on the reason for the brewpub’s closure. Nevertheless, Schumacher said the company’s 20-barrel production facility would continue to operate for a short time.

Another Oregon brewery, Seven Brides in Silverton, closed its taproom earlier this week, according to a Facebook post. The more than 10-year-old company said it would continue to sell beer, however.

Also, Sherwood, Oregon’s Two Kilts Brewing Co. has also closed, according to The New School. The beer company’s business phone line has been disconnected, and it is listed as closed on Yelp and Google.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee-based D14 Brewery & Pub closed after four years in business on October 20, according to Milwaukee Magazine.

“I’ve never been making money; I’ve been getting by,” owner Matt McCulloch told the outlet.

In South Carolina, the brewery assets of Fort Mill-based Full Spectrum Brewing Co. are available in an online slated to end October 30. A bulk bid for the entire brewery, including a 30-barrel brewhouse, is set for an opening bid of $200,000, according to a BidSpotter.com listing.

And in Hillsborough, North Carolina, Mystery Brewing will close on October 31 after nearly seven years in business, according to a post on the brewery’s Facebook page.

“We’ve always been undercapitalized, and it’s been a struggle to operate for some time now,” Mystery founder and CEO Erik Lars Myers wrote. “We’ve suffered a string of pretty bad luck over the past couple of years: equipment failures, construction and permitting delays, storm-related outages and losses. The end result is that we can no longer afford to operate.”

Finally, in Raleigh, Oak & Dagger Public House announced on Facebook that it would close its pub and move its brewing operations to another location.

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