Last Call: International M&A Heats Up; Rebecca Spicer to Depart NBWA

Heineken, Pernod and Constellation Strike Deals

Although dealmaking in the U.S. has been relatively quiet since craft sales have begun to slow, a trio of top alcohol companies have turned their focus to international markets in an effort to quench their thirst for M&A.

Last week, Heineken announced a minority investment in Belize Brewing Company, according to a press release. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In its release, Heineken noted that Belize Brewing is the Central American nation’s “market leader in beer” and the company is a subsidiary of Bowen & Bowen Ltd, an importer and distributor of Heineken products since 2016.

“We recognise BBC’s strong capabilities and position in the country, which has a fast-developing tourism industry and stable GDP growth, and offers a lot of potential to grow our premium offering, led by the Heineken brand,” Heineken Americas president Marc Busain said.

Meanwhile, in an effort to feed its popular Jameson Caskmates series, Pernod Ricard-owned Irish Distillers has made a “multimillion-euro deal” to acquire Irish craft brewery Eight Degrees Brewing Company, according to the Irish Times. Specific financial terms were not disclosed, however.

Eight Degree, which was founded in 2010, will provide second-use beer barrels for Jameson to age its whiskey in as part of the Caskmates series. According to the Irish Times, Caskmates sales increased 103 percent for the 12-month period ending June 2017, and the brand sold nearly 200,000 cases in more than 40 markets last year.

“With this success comes a need to plan for the future and that’s what led to this exciting deal with Cam [Wallace] and Scott [Baigent] in Eight Degrees Brewing,” production director Tommy Keane told the outlet.

Irish Distillers had previously sourced its Caskmates beer from Molson Coors-owned Franciscan Well.

And on April 30, Constellation Brands announced the formation of a joint sales venture with Moa Brewing Co., which the company called “the largest independent craft brewer in New Zealand.”

The JV, called MoBev, will launch on June 1 and be headquartered in Constellation Brands’ West Auckland office. The new sales team will be charged with selling “all brands from both companies’ portfolios,” the release said.

Constellation Brands president Simon Towns said, via a press release, that Moa’s beers “are complementary” to Constellation’s U.S. craft breweries, Ballast Point and Funky Buddha.

“Together, our combined offering across craft beer and total alcohol beverage make us more relevant to our customers,” Towns said, via a press release.

NBWA Communications and Public Affairs VP to Depart

Rebecca Spicer, who served as the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) senior vice president of communications and public affairs for 12 years, is departing the organization to take a similar role with Airlines for America, a trade group representing the top U.S. airlines, starting in June.

“Rebecca has a proven track record generating effective public affairs initiatives that produce results for a heavily regulated, highly competitive industry,” A4A president and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said, via a press release. “Her experience will be valuable to advancing A4A’s advocacy agenda and policy priorities.”

According to the release, Spicer will be tasked with setting “communication initiatives that execute key public relations strategies, promote the industry’s image and help achieve advocacy objectives.”

Prior to joining the NBWA, Spicer worked in President George W. Busch’s administration as associate director of communications. She’s also married to former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Trillium Garden on the Greenway to Open May 24

Massachusetts’ Trillium Brewing Company announced today that its popular Garden on the Greenway in downtown Boston will open for the season at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 24.

Last month, Trillium, as part of a partnership with the non-profit Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, announced plans to reopen the outdoor beer garden in a 17-acre park between Boston’s South Station and the North End.Trillium Garden on the Greenway will be open Wednesdays through Sundays through the end of October.

Michigan Lawmakers Vote to Ban Marijuana-Infused Beer, Wine

Michigan Senators voted Thursday to ban alcoholic beverages infused with marijuana, the Detroit News reported.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), would outlaw the possession or sale of any alcoholic beverage infused with marijuana. The bill has been referred to the committee on law and justice.

“If we don’t ban it, we’re going to have it, and it is a recipe for disaster,” Jones, a former sheriff, told the outlet. “If you want it, go to Colorado or Canada. We don’t need it here.”

The vote comes as Senate Republicans ponder whether to push forward a proposal to allow recreational marijuana use — medical marijuana is already legal in the state — or allow a citizen-led initiative to go on the November ballot.

2 MillerCoors Distributors to Consolidate

A pair of MillerCoors wholesalers in Ohio and Pennsylvania are consolidating. Dayton, Ohio-based Bonbright Distributors has reached a deal to acquire Glenwood Beer Distributors in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to WHIO-TV 7.

The deal, which is expected to close this summer, is pending approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board as well as Glenwood’s beer suppliers.

“We’re looking to become a large national distributorship through mid-market acquisitions,” Bonbright CEO Brock Anderson III told the TV station.

The combined company will operate three warehouses and sell beer in 14 Northwest Pennsylvania and nine Western Ohio counties.

Pliny the Younger Release Generates Nearly $3.4 million in Economic Impact

A two-week survey conducted by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board determined that the release of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger generated nearly $3.4 million in economic impact from visitors traveling from outside of Sonoma County to drink the triple IPA.

However, that number was down from the county’s last survey, in 2016, when the release generated $4.88 million in economic impact.

Nevertheless, the 2018 release attracted tourists from 40 states and 17 countries. About 67 percent of the visitors surveyed said they traveled specifically for Pliny the Younger, and about 47 percent of those surveyed were repeat attendees. Russian River found that the average person spent nearly $75 at the brewery. Read the full report here.

“Thank you to everyone who visited this past February, and since October,” Russian River co-owner Natalie Cilurzo wrote in a blog post. “Your dollars and smiling faces mean more than ever to our community as we continue to recover and rebuild after the devastating wildfires last October.”

Pizza Hut Expands Beer Delivery in Arizona and California

After testing beer delivery in Phoenix last December, Pizza Hut is expanding the pilot program to about 100 of the chain’s restaurants in Arizona and California, according to Reuters.

Cities included in the test include Tucson, Prescott and Winslow in Arizona as well as Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Sacramento and Santa Barbara in California.

Beer options include a mix of Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors products. Two-packs cost between $3 and $4.50 while 6-packs range from $5.99 to $10.99, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Pizza Hut is also waiving the delivery fee for 6-packs of MillerCoors products.

Last month, Papa John’s announced it would test limited beer delivery in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

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