Last Call: MillerCoors Sells Eden Facility for $2.75 Million; Reyes Acquires 2.5 Million Cases From Mission Beverage

MillerCoors Sells Former North Carolina Facility

Nearly two months after settling a lawsuit with Pabst Brewing Company, MillerCoors has sold its former Eden, North Carolina-based production facility for $2.75 million to a Greensboro-based demolition and site development company D.H. Griffin, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

In 2016, MillerCoors shuttered the 37-year-old facility, which it had acquired in July 2008 for more than $53 million, the outlet reported. The 2016 shutdown of Eden came as MillerCoors was negotiating an extension of a nearly two-decades old contract brewing arrangement with Pabst Brewing Company that was slated to expire in 2020, although Pabst held renewal options through 2030.

Despite the renewal options, MillerCoors argued that it may not have the brewing capacity required to extend the contract as its volumes have declined in recent years. Due to those declines, the Chicago-headquartered company said it had to close the Eden facility.

Pabst sued MillerCoors, claiming the company was attempting to “sabotage” its ability to compete and argued that MillerCoors would have enough capacity to brew the nearly 4.5 million barrels of beer the company produces annually.

During the trial, Pabst CEO Eugene Kashper testified that he attempted to buy the Eden facility for $100 million after MillerCoors announced the closure, but MillerCoors countered with an offer of $750 million, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Kashper declined, believing the counteroffer was closer to the price for a new facility.

Pabst and MillerCoors ultimately settled the lawsuit in late November 2018.

Blue Moon Named ‘Official Craft Beer’ of Kentucky Derby

MillerCoors today announced a multi-year sponsorship deal to make its Blue Moon brand the “official craft beer” of the Kentucky Derby, which takes place on May 4.

As part of the deal, Blue Moon will hold exclusive sponsorship rights at Churchill Downs, and a Blue Moon branded taproom overlooking the racetrack will open. Additionally, Blue Moon will be the title sponsor of Churchill Downs’ Twilight Thursday racing series.

“This not only gives us a presence in the most-renowned racing venue in the country, but it’s our first real foray into a large, national-scale event,” Blue Moon senior brand manager Sean Robberson told the company’s Behind the Beer blog.

Last year, a pair of beer companies — Constellation Brands and Boston Beer Company — struck sponsorship deals that made their Corona Extra and Angry Orchard brands the exclusive import and cider brands of the race, respectively.

Although Blue Moon is the first craft beer sponsor of the Churchill Downs racetrack, it is not the only craft beer to ink a sponsorship deal of a race at the Louisville, Kentucky-based racetrack. Fast-growing Kentucky craft beer maker Braxton Brewing Company was named the official beer sponsor of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships in October.

Anheuser-Busch to Release Non-Alc Version of Leffe in Belgium

Anheuser-Busch InBev will begin selling a non-alcoholic version of its Leffe abbey beer in Belgium this year, according to the Telegraph.

A-B, the world’s largest beer manufacturer has developed a de-alcoholisation technique that will allow the beer to go through the normal brewing process before alcohol is removed during fermentation, the outlet reported.

“We are proud to have been the first to succeed, thanks to the expertise of our brewers, to produce a non-alcoholic beer that is completely faithful to the quality and authenticity of the beer of Leffe abbey, ” A-B marketing director for Europe West Arnaud Hanset told the Telegraph.

A-B joins a handful of beer companies releasing non-alcoholic offerings in 2019, including Heineken, which recently introduced its 0.0 in the U.S., and Brooklyn Brewery, which launched Special Effects in Sweden. Pabst Brewing also plans to introduce a non-alcoholic version of its Pabst Blue Ribbon brand.

Reyes Beverage Group Acquires Heineken, Mike’s Brands in LA

Reyes Beverage Group subsidiary Harbor Distributing entered into a purchase agreement on December 26 to acquire the Heineken and Mike’s Hard Lemonade portfolios from Mission Beverage in Los Angeles, a Reyes spokeswoman told Brewbound.

The deal, which is expected to close on January 11, will add nearly 2.5 million cases to Harbor Distributing’s business. Starting January 14, Harbor will begin delivering the brands from its warehouses in Gardena and Santa Fe Springs, which opened in late October 2018.

Last year, Reyes acquired the rights to sell Constellation Brands’ offerings — including popular imported Mexican beer labels Corona, Modelo and Pacifico — from Ace Beverage in Los Angeles, Triangle Beverage in Santa Fe Springs, Beauchamp Distributing Company in Compton and Markstein Beverage Co. in northern San Diego County.

Elizabeth Warren’s Beer Choice Irks Right-Leaning Media

Massachusetts Sen. and possible 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren cracked open a beer during an Instagram live video during New Year’s Eve, and predictably, her choice of beers — Anheuser-Busch-owned Michelob Ultra — came under scrutiny from various right-wing pundits.

Esquire rounds up some of the reactions, including Fox News pondering if swigging a beer was an attempt to pander and appear likable. Meanwhile, Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham opined that Warren’s swig “stumbles to achieve” authenticity.

For her part, Warren called Michelob Ultra “the club soda of beer.”

Colorado’s Lost Highway Brewing Closes

Colorado’s Lost Highway Brewing shuttered on January 2, according to Denver alt-weekly newspaper Westword.

Lost Highway co-owner James Pachorek told the outlet that it was time to “move on” from the “time consuming” and at-times “soul-sucking” hospitality industry. He added that his family is focused on sending their first child to college.

Lost Highway opened in 2014 after three years of delays. Among the issues cited for Lost Highway’s closure were an inability to gain wider distribution, a remote location, consistency problems and several head brewer changes, Westword reported.

Karben4 Issues Voluntary Recall

Wisconsin’s Karben4 announced a voluntary recall due to a bottle flaw, the company announced on its website.

According to Karben4, the bottle manufacturer detected a flaw that could result in “a small piece of glass to break and fall into the bottle, causing a risk for injury.” Karben4 recalled beer bottled between November 8 and December 31, 2018.

“Karben4 is actively working with its beer distribution partners to eliminate these bottles from warehouse inventory and remove them from store shelves,” the company wrote on its website.

Karben4 is requesting consumers to either email the company at info@karben4.com or return affected bottles to its Madison taproom for a refund or other compensation. Read more about the recall here.

Big Sky Brewing Begins Making Non-Alcoholic Seltzer

Montana’s largest craft brewery, Big Sky Brewing Company, is the latest beer company to release a line of non-alcoholic seltzers, according to KPAX TV news.

Big Sky Brewing co-founder Neal Leathers told the outlet that the brand, Virga, allows his company to diversify into other categories that will enable it to better compete with the growing number of breweries across the country.

Several beer companies sell hard seltzers, including Samuel Adams maker Boston Beer (Truly), Wachusett Brewing (Nauti), Oskar Blues (Wild Basin), Braxton (Vive), Platform Beer Co., NoDa Brewing (Brizo), Constellation Brands (Svedka Spiked Premium Seltzer), Anheuser-Busch InBev (SpikedSeltzer) and Diageo (Smirnoff Hard Sparkling), among others.

FIFCO USA Launches Ad Campaign for Pura Still

FIFCO USA (formerly North American Breweries) has launched a national ad campaign for its new Pura Still spiked still water brand. The 15-second spot, created by the Burns Group, is titled “Anything but Flat,” and touts Pura Still’s lack of carbonation.

The 4.5 percent ABV, 90 calorie and one gram of sugar Pura Still comes in three flavors — blackberry, mango and mandarin orange.

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