Middle Tier Headlines: Ska Brewing Retrenches; Cigar City Begins Exporting to Scandinavia

Ska Brewing Pulls Out of Texas

After nearly a decade of distributing to the Lone Star State, Colorado-based Ska Brewing has ceased shipments to Texas, the company announced in a press release.

According to Ska, capacity constraints coupled with the remote location of its production facility in Durango led the company to exit Texas. In turn, Ska will refocus its efforts on its home state of Colorado as well as Arizona, Southern California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico and Utah

“Crafting beer in the mountains makes for some big logistical challenges, and unfortunately Texas has been tough,” Ska Brewing co-founder and CEO Dave Thibodeau said, via a press release. “Quite frankly if we ever want to enter this market again we are going to have to allocate more resources and brew and sell a lot more beer.”

In December 2016, Ska hired former Stone Brewing national sales director Jason Armstrong to oversee its sales operations in Texas and hailed the hire as a way to grow sales and increase its market presence. However, according to Armstrong’s LinkedIn page, he left the company a year later.

Cigar City Begins Exporting to Scandinavia

Later this month, Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing will begin exporting its beer to Scandinavia via Great Brands AB, the company announced in a press release.

The company will begin shipping its portfolio, including Jai Alai IPA and Guayabera Citra Pale Ale, to Sweden, Finland and Norway.

For Cigar City, which is owned by the Canarchy Craft Brewery Collective and ships beer to 23 states as well as Puerto Rico, the deal marks the company’s first full-time international partnership.

“We’ve been lucky enough to brew beer with several Swedish breweries and attend Swedish beer festivals for many years and we know how knowledgeable and discerning the beer market is in that part of the world,” Cigar City el lector Neil Callaghan, said via a release.

Maine Beer Co. Adds Georgia

Shipments of Maine Beer Co. offerings began arriving in Georgia last week via Savannah Distributing, marketing and event coordinator Anne Marisic told Brewbound.

“We’re excited to bring our beer into the market in Georgia and are pleased by the warm welcome we have received so far,” she wrote in an email.

Maine Beer Co. offerings are now available in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

Oklahoma Strong Beer Deliveries Begin

Shipments of full-strength beer have begun arriving in Oklahoma in advance of an October 1 law that allows for the sale of beer above 3.2 alcohol by weight (ABW), the Tulsa World reported.

“As the new strong beer brands and varieties arrive in Oklahoma, Prohibition-era laws are officially on their way out,” Oklahoma Beer Alliance president Lisette Barnes told the outlet. “Soon, the way Oklahomans have been buying beer for the past 59 years will finally change, and Oklahomans will have more convenience and selection of the high-quality cold, strong beers that they have been demanding.”

Oklahoma voters passed a ballot measure to allow full-strength beer and wine sales during the November 2016 election. The state’s population accounted for more than half of the sales of so-called 3.2 beer.

August Beer Purchaser’s Index Expands Again

The National Beer Wholesalers Association’s (NBWA) Beer Purchasers’ Index — which helps explain U.S. beer distributors’ monthly purchasing behavior — expanded in August with a reading of 54, up one point from 2017 levels. A reading greater than 50 indicates segment expansion, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction, according to the NBWA.

Craft showed signs of slowing with an index of 55, which was “significantly lower” than last August’s reading of 69, the NBWA said. Meanwhile, import’s reading of 67 was up one point from last August.

Led by hard seltzers, the FMB/PAB reading of 69 was well above last July’s index of 57. And cider’s 50 reading marked the first time the segment had expanded since 2015.

“Across all segments except FMBs, the ‘at-risk’ inventory measures were all slightly above last year’s August 2017 readings,” NBWA chief economist Lester Jones said, via a press release. “This suggests a slightly higher level of inventories moving into the fall selling season.”

A-B Wholesalers Consolidate in Missouri

Two Missouri Anheuser-Busch wholesalers combined last month as Grey Eagle Distributors — the A-B wholesaler in St. Louis County — acquired Soaring Eagle Distributing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

As part of the deal, Grey Eagle, which sells about 8.5 million cases of A-B products annually, will gain an additional 600,000 cases to sell in Southeastern Missouri, the outlet reported.

Grey Eagle chairman and CEO David Stokes told the outlet that there is “tremendous growth potential in southeastern Missouri, especially with the Anheuser Busch portfolio,” citing new offerings such as Bud Light Orange, Budweiser Freedom Reserve and Michelob Ultra Pure Gold.

“Expanding into this new territory presents a great opportunity to develop our market share and strategically positions Grey Eagle for continued growth,” he said.

TTB Suspends Skokie Valley Beverage Company’s Permit

In late August, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) informed Illinois-based Skokie Valley Beverage Company that it no longer holds a valid basic wholesaler permit “due to unreported changes in ownership and control” and warned the company that continuing to do so would constitute a criminal offense.

In a press release, the TTB said the lack of permit was revealed during joint trade practice investigation being conducted by the government agency and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission in September 2017.

According to the TTB, that investigation revealed that Skokie Valley Beverage had violated tied house provisions of the FAA Act by allegedly providing illegal slotting fees, via a third party, to get three retailers to carry its brands on draft.

Last month, Skokie Valley Beverage announced that after more than 70 years it was selling off its portfolio — which included Old Style, Corona, Modelo and Wild Onion — to Chicago’s Lakeshore Beverage Co. and Reyes Holdings’ Chicago Beverage Systems and Windy City Distributing.

Tivoli, Montucky Cold Snack Lawsuit Settled

A lawsuit filed by Denver-based Tivoli Brewing against one of its suppliers, Montucky Cold Snacks, over the transfer of its distribution rights, has been settled, according to Business Den.

The two parties reportedly “reached a confidential settlement,” and the case was dismissed on August 6.

Tivoli, which shut down its distribution arm, accused Montucky of breach of contract for refusing a transfer of its distribution rights to Elite Brands of Colorado and High Country. The Montana-headquartered beer company had instead chosen Breakthru Beverage, which according to Business Den, is Montucky’s new distributor.