Last Call: Deschutes Eyes East Coast; Durango Sells Stake


Deschutes’ New Director of Brewing Ops Talks East Coast

Deschutes Brewery has hired a new director of brewing operations who, among other things, will be tasked with assisting in the design, installation and launch of the brewery’s planned east coast facility. Karl Ockert, the industry executive who will fill the role effective August 3, discussed the company’s East Coast plans with Bend Bulletin’s resident beer business insider, Joseph Ditzler.

Ditzler asked, “How much appeal is there in helping establish a brewery on the East Coast for [Deschutes]?”

Ockert: “That was a big part of it, too. You know brewers in general… part of the thing that gives ‘em all goosebumps is building a new brewery from scratch, from a greenfield site, and that sounds like what’s going to happen, and that certainly is a big appeal for me at this stage in my career, to get something designed, built, get all the bugs ironed out and up and running.”

Ockert helped start BridgePort Brewing in Portland, Ore. He left the company in 1990, but returned in 1996 and was there until 2010. He’d also served as a brewing supervisor for Anheuser-Busch in between stints with BridgePort.

Durango Brewing Sells Majority Stake

Earlier this year, Colorado’s Durango Brewing sold a majority interest to a Denver-based private investor for an undisclosed sum, according to the Durango Herald. A spokeswoman with the company told the website the desire to sell was driven by its interest in increasing operations, though the company’s new ownership has not yet established a timeline for expansion, per the report.

“With the expansion down the road, it will allow Durango Brewing Co. to strengthen Colorado distribution as well as look at expanding into other markets,” the spokeswoman told the website.

The spokeswoman also teased the possibility of establishing an employee stock option plan, according to the report.

A-B Buys Brazilian Brewery

Reuters reports that AmBev, a Brazilian subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, acquired “Colorado,” a brewer based in Sao Paulo that exports beers to both France and the U.S. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Colorado had revenues of approximately 19 million reais, or roughly $5.96 million, in 2014, per the report.

BA, BI Send Joint Letter to Congress

Heads of both the Brewers Association and the Beer Institute penned a letter to Congress this week, asking lawmakers to co-sponsor a bipartisan piece of legislation that would dramatically cut the federal beer excise tax. As reported by Brewbound last month, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015 would provide substantial tax cuts not only for the nation’s small brewers, but also modest cuts for larger beer manufacturers and importers.

“This common sense, forward-looking approach will help the entire beer industry remain competitive, create good-paying jobs, and benefit American consumers,” read the letter, jointly signed by BA CEO Bob Pease and BI president and CEO Jim McGreevy.

Heidelberg Distributing Franchise Rights at Risk in Family Feud

Infighting amongst the board of directors of Heidelberg Distributing Co., one of the largest wholesalers in the midwest, could cost the company its franchise rights to a number of craft beer and wine suppliers, reports (subscription required). The dispute started in December after co-owner Albert Vontz III sued his sister and co-owner Carol Miller — each of whom own 50 percent of the company — when the two could not agree on a price at which Miller could buy out Vontz.

Money isn’t the only issue, however. Per WCPO, “each side accuses the other of never holding a meaningful role in the company, and elevating personal interests above what is best for the company,” with additional accusations of “excessive pay, corporate waste and sleeping through company meetings.”

The suit will go to trial this September. WCPO adds that Heidelberg has 1,600 employees and services 26,000 retailers in Ohio and Kentucky.

Two Colorado Breweries Square Up for Trademark Fight

Denver’s Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project has notified the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of plans to protest three separate trademark applications filed by Trinity Brewing of Colorado Springs, reports Westword. Specifically, Crooked Stave is objecting to Trinity’s protection of three specific brands — Primitif, Three Flowers Saison Vieille and Mr. Saison Saison Vieille.

As Westword notes, the dispute follows one last year between the two companies, in which Trinity filed a cease and desist against Crooked Stave over use of the word Primitif. Both companies declined to comment on the matter.