Last Call: Tax Cuts for Brewers Passes House Committee; May US Beer Shipments Decline

House Committee Approves Excise Tax Relief Extension

Another year of excise tax relief for brewers is closer to reality. As expected, the House Ways and Means Committee passed a one-year extension of the federal excise tax relief for alcohol producers and importers.

Late Thursday evening, the committee voted 25 to 17 to include language from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2019 into a package of tax cut extenders. The legislation now advances to the House floor.

“Ensuring all brewers and beer importers can continue to count on federal excise tax relief is key to making sure our nation’s more than 7,000 active brewers continue to thrive, innovate and provide Americans with more varieties and styles of beer — our nation’s most popular alcohol beverage,” Beer Institute (BI) president and CEO Jim McGreevy said in a press release.

Although the House committee recommended only a one-year extension of the excise tax cuts, industry trade groups say they will continue the effort to make the tax breaks permanent.

In a statement to Brewbound, Brewers Association president and CEO Bob Pease said: “As this legislation moves forward in the House and Senate, we will continue to work very closely with our allies to ensure America’s small and independent breweries pay the lower rate and, as a result, have the capital and certainty they need to continue to expand their businesses and hire additional workers.”

May US Beer Shipments Decline

For the fourth consecutive month, U.S. beer companies shipped fewer barrels of beer in 2019 than they did in 2018.

The Beer Institute (BI), citing unofficial estimates of domestic tax paid shipments from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), reported that shipments from U.S. breweries declined 1.5 percent, to more than 15 million barrels of beer, in May.

According to BI chief economist Michael Uhrich, May’s volume declines are due to cooler temperatures this year compared to warmer temperatures in May 2018. Nevertheless, FMBs, including hard seltzers, continued to show “strong growth” and gained a point of market share, he added.

Through the first four months of 2019, U.S. breweries have shipped more than 67 million barrels of beer, down nearly 439,000 barrels compared to 2018 levels.

BrewDog Loses Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

BrewDog’s attempt to draw attention to the gender wage gap ended with a man successfully suing the Scottish craft brewery for sexual discrimination, according to the Independent.

Thomas Bower filed a lawsuit against BrewDog after one the brewery’s bartenders refused to sell him a discounted Punk IPA, rebranded Pink IPA, in March 2018 unless the man identified as a woman.

Bower claimed that he felt “forced’ into identifying as a woman so he could buy the discounted beer. So he sued the company claiming “direct discrimination and breach of the Equality Act 2010,” the outlet reported.

District Judge Phillips agreed with Bower, ruling that the man had been “directly discriminated against” by BrewDog due to his gender.

“The fact that by identifying as female he was still able to purchase a Pink IPA makes no difference,” Phillips added. “I accept what Dr. Bower says, namely that identifying as female was the only way he could purchase a Pink IPA at a cost of £4.”

According to Vice, Bower was awarded $1,254 in damages, which he pledged to donate to charity (minus court fees).

Deschutes Begins Selling Canned Water

In an effort to cut down on single-use plastic water bottles, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery has begun canning drinking water, according to the company’s blog.

Deschutes, the 10th largest Brewers Association-defined craft brewery, said its canned water would be available to purchase this summer at events throughout central Oregon, as well as Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe’s locations in Bend, Sunriver and Riverbend.

Modern Times Opens Santa Barbara Location

San Diego’s Modern Times Beer announced Thursday the opening of its long-awaited “Academy of Recreational Sciences” tasting room and restaurant in Santa Barbara.

The now-complete facility — which has been in the works since 2015 — features more than 30 taps, a large outdoor patio space, a menu of plant-based foods and a retail space for to-go beer, coffee and merchandise.

Beyond its production brewery and taproom in San Deigo’s Point Loma neighborhood, Modern Times now operates secondary locations in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, Los Angeles, Encinitas and Portland, Oregon. The company also plans to open spots in Oakland and Anaheim.

Great Divide Brewpub to Open in Castle Rock

Great Divide Brewing is partnering with Denver-based restaurant operator the Roadhouse Hospitality Group to open an 8,000 sq. ft. brewpub this September in Castle Rock, Colorado, according to Denver alt-weekly Westword.

As part of the partnership, Roadhouse will lease the space and maintain the brewing license of the Great Divide Brewery and Roadhouse, while the Denver-based craft brewery operates the five-barrel pilot system.

The brewpub will be the second Great Divide branded location to open this year, after the opening of a branded pub at Denver International Airport earlier this year.

Additionally, Great Divide will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday at its downtown Denver location.

Gordon Biersch Auction Next Week

The brewing equipment from a shuttered Gordon Biersch brewpub in Atlanta is heading for auction next week. The auction, run by Heritage Global Partners, starts June 26 and runs through noon EST on June 27. Find out more details on Bidspotter.com.

The brewpub in Atalnata’ Buckhead district closed in late March.

Gordon Biersch is also closing a San Diego location on July 16. 79 employees are expected to lose their jobs, according to 10 News San Diego.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale Named Top Beer by AHA

For the third consecutive year, Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale is the top-ranked beer in the U.S. according to the American Homebrewers Association’s (AHA) Zymurgy magazine.

The Best Beers in America list, now in its 17th year, is populated by a survey of AHA members. Rounding out the top five, in order, were Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, Founders Brewing’s KBS and The Alchemist’s Heady Topper.

“Receiving this honor once, twice even was incredible. But a third time? I am speechless and incredibly thankful to the homebrewing community and everyone who has helped make this beer what it is today,” Bell’s founder Larry Bell said in a press release.

Additionally, AHA members named Bell’s the top brewery in the U.S., followed by Founders, Russian River, Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. See the full list here.

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