Last Call: Schlafly Apologizes to 4 Hands for Executive’s Hit Piece; Kirkland Light Discontinued

Schlafly Beer Issues Public Apology to 4 Hands

Two days after St. Louis Brewery CEO James Pendegraft resigned, the executive’s former employer issued an apology to 4 Hands Brewing for a newsletter that was circulated to bars and restaurants that criticized the rival craft brewery, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The St. Louis Brewery, which makes Schlafly beer, issued a joint press release with 4 Hands acknowledging that an unnamed Schlafly “senior executive” had “caused negative and misleading information to be circulated about 4 Hands” via an anonymous newsletter. The company added that the executive had since resigned.

The newsletter in question, called Brew IQ in the Lou, claimed 4 Hands was named after a sex act performed at massage parlors.

“The ladies are becoming woke and are starting to ask questions,” the newsletter said. “We’d like to give them a hand, but think the four are proving to be too many.”

In the joint press release, Schlafly co-founder Tom Schlafly apologized and 4 Hands founder Kevin Lemp accepted. Lemp added that 4 Hands was named for the intertwined hands of his family.

“We were embarrassed to learn of these actions and sincerely apologize to 4 Hands Brewing,” Tom Schlafly said in the release. “Such actions are inconsistent with the core values on which we were founded and which have defined Schlafly for 27 years.

In other Schlafly news, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the name “Schlafly” meets the requirements for trademark registration for beer products. The ruling, which upholds a 2016 decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), brings Tom Schlalfy closer to ending a 7-year battle with his relatives — the late conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly and her two sons — over the right’s to the name.

“Since we began selling beer in 1991, the Schlafly name has been our connection to our consumers,” Tom Schlafly said in a press release. “The trademark allows us to ensure that the trusted product is protected for years to come.”

Olde Saratoga Sold Piecemeal at Auction for About $1 Million

The brewing equipment of New York’s Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. was sold piecemeal at auction for about $1 million, according to Jeremy Halford, commercial and industrial managing director for Tiger Group, the financial services firm that conducted the auction in conjunction with liquidator Schneider Industries Inc.

Recall that Olde Saratoga and Mendocino Brewing Company shuttered in January as the Indian government attempted to extradite billionaire Vijay Mallya, who owned both breweries, from London on fraud and money laundering charges in excess of $1 billion.

Halford estimated that around 20 parties acquired the equipment, but “about 60 percent of the facility was sold in large portions to four or five guys.” He added that sale and removal of the equipment closed around November 2.

Halford declined to name any of the buyers.

Beer Purchaser’s Index Contracts in November

Even though beer wholesalers purchased slightly more beer in November 2018 than they did at this time last year, the Beer Purchasers’ Index — which helps explain U.S. beer distributors’ monthly purchasing behavior — contracted in November with a reading of 48.2, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA).

The NBWA called the slight contraction “steady and predictable” since it was in line with October 2018’s reading of 48.3.

Meanwhile, the craft segment expanded in November, with a reading of 56.9, but that figure was 10 points lower than 2017 levels.

Wholesalers again ordered more import beers last month, as the import reading of 69.4 was up over the reading of 60.6 last year. Additionally, the FMB/PAB reading of 62.7 was significantly above last year’s index of 36.9. Cider also expanded with a 57.7 reading, up considerably from November 2017’s 24.2 reading.

Premium light, premium regular and below premium beers posted lower readings compared to last year and “continue to lack any significant signs of recovery,” the NBWA said.

Wholesalers also reported an increase in “at risk” inventory — beer within three days of going out of code — the NBWA said.

“This was driven primarily by slower than expected sales in craft, premium lights and premium regular segments,” the trade group reported.

Heineken Acquires Spanish Craft Brewery

Heineken has acquired a majority stake in La Cibeles, a 7-year-old Spanish craft brewery, according to Foodbev Media. The company plans to expand La Cibeles’ production facility near Madrid and grow the brand’s distribution footprint.

The acquisition is Heineken’s third this year, following minority acquisitions of Beavertown and Belize Brewing Company.

Eddyline Brewery Sold

The founders of Buena Vista, Colorado-based Eddyline Brewery have sold the business to two employees, according to Westword.

Founders Mic and Molley Heynekamp, who are moving to New Zealand, sold the brewery to Brian England and Melissa McFee, who plan to make changes to Eddyline’s branding, begin sales in grocery stores, and explore out-of-state distribution.

Walmart Lobbies to End 3.2 Beer in Utah

Walmart is posting signs in its Utah stores urging customers to join its push to allow big box retailers and grocery stores to sell beer above 3.2 alcohol by weight (ABW), according to Fox 13.

Utah and Minnesota will be the last two states that bar sales of beer above 3.2 ABW in grocery stores come April 2019. Utah retailers have reportedly vowed that if changes aren’t made during next year’s legislative session, they will pursue a ballot initiative in 2020.

“Walmart is a strong believer in consumer choice and offering our customers low prices on the products they want,” Walmart spokeswoman Tiffany Wilson told the outlet. “This means we are constantly looking for ways to meet our customers’ needs and expectations.”

Costco Discontinued Kirkland Light

Bulk retailer Costco has ceased production of private-label brand Kirkland Light, according to The Takeout.

Kirkland Light, which sold for $22 a 48-pack, had inspired fan videos, but also the disdain of others, including a RateBeer user who described the beer as smelling like “a urine-soaked diaper sitting on a piping-hot radiator,” Business Insider reported.

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