Last Call: Hops & Vines Sells to Ambiente Wine Parent Company

Hops & Vines Sells to Private Investment Firm

Texas-based craft beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverage wholesaler Hops & Vines Distributing has been sold to Austin-based private investment firm Fountain Square Industries, according to the San Antonio Current. Fountain Square Industries, which also owns Austin-based wine wholesaler Ambiente Wine, closed the deal last week, although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to a press release, Hops & Vines founder and CEO Tristan Maldonado, as well as the wholesaler’s management team, will remain with the company.

Hops & Vines currently distributes products from Celis Brewery, Freetail Brewing Co., and Texas Beer Co., among others. Ambiente will provide additional capital to fund Hops & Vines’ future acquisitions and initiatives, the release added

“The combination of Ambiente and Hops and Vines provides an enhanced platform to better serve our suppliers, customers and ultimately our consumers,” Maldonado said in the release. “We both desire to redefine what distribution means to the entire ecosystem in Texas.”

Braxton’s VIVE Hard Seltzer Named Official Hard Seltzer of Cincinnati Bengals

Covington, Kentucky-based Braxton Brewing Co. has inked a deal to make its VIVE hard the “official hard seltzer” of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. The brand’s four offerings — Mango, Lime, Dragonfruit and Grapefruit — will be available inside Paul Brown Stadium for the 2019 football season.

Former North Carolina Brewers Alliance Leader Appears in Court on Embezzlement Charges

Kendra Penland Turner, former executive director of the Asheville Brewers Alliance, appeared in Superior Court Monday on charges of embezzlement and financial card fraud for unauthorized use of the organization’s credit card, according to ABC News affiliate WLOS.

Turner is accused of embezzling an unspecified amount of the Brewers Alliance’s money between February 2017 and April 2018, as well as charging more than $500 to its credit card from September 2016 to April 2018. She resigned last summer after three years in the role.

Turner could face up to five years in prison if convicted of both offenses. Her next court date is scheduled for September 19.

North Carolina Governor Signs Law to Allow Pets in Breweries

North Carolina Gov. Ray Cooper signed Senate Bill 290 into law last week, allowing pets inside breweries that do not prepare or serve foods starting September 1. The state previously banned pets from all food establishments, including breweries. However, it did not distinguish between breweries’ with restaurants and taprooms that do not serve food, according to Port City Daily. Under the new law, a brewery is defined as being “not engaged in the preparation of food on the premises.”

Hangar 24 Ends Beer Membership Club

Redlands, California-based Hangar 24 has canceled its Barrel Roll Club membership club, according to The Press-Enterprise. Hangar 24 founder and CEO Ben Cook told the outlet that the brewery is “making it right” by refunding customers for the remaining portions of their memberships.

The brewery announced the end of the club to members via email at the end of July and closed its Barrel Roll Club Facebook group. Cook said the club was too small to devote to “that level of resources into it.”

The membership club, which launched in 2014, cost $300 annually for 16 bottles of beer.

Anheuser-Busch to Launch Non-Alcoholic Budweiser in India

Anheuser-Busch will enter the non-alcoholic beer market in India with the launch of Budweiser 0.0, the company announced last week. Budweister 0.0 will be available in cans and bottles at retailers in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Gujarat, according to The Economic Times.

“Budweiser is one of the fastest growing beer brands in the country and we are thrilled to add Budweiser 0.0 to our portfolio here,” Ben Verhaert, AB InBev president for South Asia, said in a media statement. “While the market for non-alcoholic beers is still nascent here, as a leading brewer we see a great opportunity to grow this segment.”

News of the non-alcoholic Budweiser launch follows the city government in New Delhi, India’s capital, banning A-B from selling its products for three years after accusations of tax evasion, according to Reuters. The New Delhi government alleges that the world’s largest beer manufacturer duplicated barcodes sold at the city’s retailers in 2016 in order to pay lower taxes. A-B has denied these claims. Reuters reported Tuesday that city authorities denied A-B’s plea to temporarily lift the ban, while its appeal is under consideration.

Diageo Invests $218 Million to Convert Breweries in Africa to Renewable Energy

Multinational beer and spirits producer Diageo is investing $218 million to convert its brewing sites in Africa to renewable energy use, Quartz Africa reported. Diageo, whose brands include Guinness and Johnny Walker, plans to overhaul the sites’ electricity sources and install solar power, biomass boilers for steam power, and new water recovery equipment. The equipment overhaul will cost $60 million, with the remaining amount earmarked for operation costs.

The new equipment is projected to cut carbon emissions by 42,000 tons and water waste by 2 billion cubic liters.

NBWA’s Beer Purchaser’s Index Expands in July

The National Beer Wholesalers Association’s (NBWA) Beer Purchasers’ Index — a survey of wholesalers’ purchasing behavior — expanded in July, with a reading of 65, up two points from July 2018.

Segments that expanded in July included FMBs/PABs (81 index), imports (65 index) and craft (59 index).

However, imports were down six points from July 2018 levels, while craft is down by seven points. FMBs/PABs increased 13 points over July 2018’s reading.

Readings above 50 indicate segment expansion, while readings below indicate segment contraction. At 45, the “at risk inventory” reading continues its downward trajectory, which began in March.

A-B to Release Bud Light Post Malone Cans

Anheuser-Busch is launching special-edition 16 oz. Bud Light cans featuring rapper Post Malone this fall. The new design also draws inspiration from the rapper’s tattoos — with images of barbed wire, swords and dragons — along with imagery from his state of Texas.

Earlier this week, Bud Light launched a unisex streetwear line in collaboration with Post Malone at a pop-up shop in New York City.

A-B Releases ‘Busch Latte’ Packaging

Anheuser-Busch’s Busch brand is releasing limited-edition packaging with the “Busch Latte” nickname, but the beer remains the same. The brand announced the new packaging with an ad modeled after classic coffee commercials from the 1980s and 1990s. Limited-edition cans in 30-packs will hit shelves in seven states.

Wellspent Brewing Company Closes

St. Louis-based Wellspent Brewing Company announced its closure, effective immediately, earlier this week. The brewery was opened by Kyle and Angela Kohlmorgen in March 2018.

In a letter posted to the brewery’s Facebook account, Kyle Kohlmorgen cited overwhelming debt for the end of Wellspent.

“We had a vision for Wellspent and a commitment to quality in both beer and experience,” he wrote. “To realize that vision and maintain that commitment, we needed a LOT more money than we had. We didn’t want to take on private investment for fear of diluting that vision and commitment.”

Kohlmorgen added that the goal was to keep Wellspent open long enough to break even, but after “starting way too fast,” the business wasn’t sustainable.

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