Last Call: Summit Sues Ex-Employees; Boston Bars Avoid Pay-to-Play Penalties


Summit Sues Ex-Employees, Alleges Sharing Trade Secrets

There’s bad blood brewing in Minnesota. Summit Brewing Company is suing two former employees, accusing them “of conspiring to sell the company’s confidential trade secrets to high-level executives for ‘a direct competitor,’” according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Summit is suing its second employee, Jeffrey Spaeth, who started with the brewery in 1986 and worked his way up to vice president of sales in 2015. In March, Spaeth left the company; two months later, he began serving as a strategy consultant for nearby Surly Brewing Company. He left that job in September.

In addition to Spaeth, Summit is suing Timothy Daly, who had worked as a sales market manager for the company.

Here’s what we know about the lawsuit filed Thursday, per the Star Tribune:

“According to the lawsuit, in August 2016, Daly e-mailed Summit’s confidential and trade secret information to Spaeth, which the lawsuit says he then sent on to the company’s competitor. Daly was responsible for sales in territory encompassing northern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and parts of the Twin Cities.”

Summit is reportedly seeking $50,000 from Spaeth and Daly.


Boston Bar Owners Won’t Face Repercussions in Pay-to-Play Scandal

2016 just wouldn’t be complete without one final update to Boston’s ongoing pay-to-play saga. According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission has absolved three bars whose parent companies accepted wholesaler payments to carry specific beer brands.

This all stems from the ABCC’s probe that led to a $2.6 million fine levied against Everett-based Craft Brewers Guild, run by the Sheehan Family Companies, for making $120,000 in illegal payments to bars.

The ABCC reportedly couldn’t penalize the three bars — Game On (owned by Lyons Group), Gather (owned by Briar Group) and Coogan’s Bluff (owned by Glynn Hospitality Group) — that received a combined $79,4000 from Craft Brewers Guild because those bars’ parent companies do not hold the liquor licenses that fall under the ABCC’s purview — and the agency lacked proof that the payments were passed down to the bars, the Globe reported.

“By the tenor and tone of the decisions, the commissioners seemed to express their displeasure that there was nothing they could do,” ABCC’s general counsel Kris Foster told the Globe. “The commission is constrained by the Legislature in that it can only regulate licensees.”

The ABCC may still take other action against the parent companies, however, which were reportedly never authorized by the agency to run the three bars.

The ABCC found a fourth bar, Jerry Remy’s, guilty of violating the pay-to-play law for taking $8,420 from CBG because the bar’s parent company, the Cronin Group, also holds its liquor license.

The Cronin Group “actively participated in this unlawful scheme, by accepting and depositing the checks while knowing that the billing was a ruse for the payment of a $20-per-keg kickback from Craft,” the ABCC commissioners reportedly said.


Schlafly ‘Shelves’ Third Brewery

St. Louis-based Schlafly is putting the brakes on plans for a third brewery, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. Last year, Schlafly produced about 60,000 barrels of beer, according to Brewers Association records, and the brewery is upping production at its current facilities.

The news comes less than two weeks after co-founder Dan Kopman announced his departure from the company after 25 years. That move was part of previously agreed upon timeline with Sage Capital, the St. Louis-based private equity firm that acquired a majority stake in the company in 2012, Kopman told Brewbound in an email.


Distribution Roundup

America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, will begin distribution throughout the state of Indiana through Monarch Beverage. The Indianapolis Star reported that there is no firm date on when beer from the largest craft brewer, as defined by the Brewers Association, will arrive in the Hoosier State.

north coast

Elsewhere, Cavalier Distributing has acquired the distribution rights to California-based North Coast Brewing for coverage throughout the state of Florida, according to a press release.

North Coast had been distributed in the Sunshine State for 20 years. Micro Man Distributing was listed on the brewery’s site as at least one of its wholesalers in the state.

“We’ve had a great working relationship with George and the Cavalier team for years in Ohio and Indiana and we’re really looking forward to turning them loose in Florida” North Coast Eastern Sales Director John Barabas said in a press release.

North Coast produced 68,743 barrels of beer in 2015, according to the Brewers Association.

Finally, Seattle-based Ghostfish Brewing Company, known for making award-winning gluten-free beers, will begin distribution to Oregon via General Distributors, according to the New School.