Press Clips: Anchor Brewing Union Contract Finalized; D.C. Brau Receives Investment

Anchor Brewing Workers and Management Sign Union Contract

Employees at Anchor Brewing ratified a three-year contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 6 earlier this month, a first for the San Francisco-based brewery, according to a press release.

“Anchor has a storied history and enduring commitment to making great beers and valuing the people who brew them,” brewmaster Scott Ungermann said in the release.

Anchor employees voted to unionize in March and the contract was passed 49-3, according to posts shared by the Anchor union’s Twitter account.

Included in the contract are “substantial compensation increases” for union members over the next three years. Raises will vary by title and seniority, but the average wage increase will be 8%, according to the release.

Anchor, which was acquired for $85 million by Japan’s Sapporo Holdings Limited in mid-2017, will also pay 85% of employees’ health insurance premiums and 50% of their dependents’ premiums. And Anchor will make additional contributions to employees’ 401(K) plans based on the brewery’s production.

Anchor’s production has declined every year since peaking in 2014 at 159,000 barrels, according to estimates by the Brewers Association (BA). In 2018, Anchor produced 91,938 barrels, a 16% decline from the previous year. The company’s production has declined double-digits in three of the last four years, according to the BA.

The contract’s pay increases will put Anchor employees’ wages above California’s $13 an hour minimum wage and San Francisco’s $15.59 an hour minimum wage.

Effective January 1, hourly wages for junior brewery employees will increase from $16.50 per hour to $18.50 per hour. Bartenders at Anchor’s Public Taps taproom will receive a raise from $15.60 per hour to $18.25 per hour. California is one of seven states that does not set a lower minimum wage for tipped employees, such as bar and wait staff.

All employees who work on company-recognized holidays will also receive time and a half. Employees will have paid half-hour lunch breaks. Part-time employees will become eligible for paid time off, and all employees will receive payment for a portion of the sick time they accrue beyond their hour cap.

Founded in 1937,  ILWU’s members include Bay Area employees at companies that work in food production, medicine manufacturing, waste collection, recycling, port maintenance and on-dock bulk loading.

Anchor, which was founded in 1896, was purchased by Fritz Maytag in 1965. Maytag sold Anchor Brewing in 2010 to Bay Area entrepreneurs Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio for an undisclosed sum. Japanese brewery Sapporo acquired the company in 2017. Sapporo employees in Japan and Canada, where the company operates Sleeman Breweries, belong to unions.

D.C. Brau Raises More than $600,000

D.C. Brau raised $614,335 from 12 investors during a recent equity raise, according to a December 19 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, first reported on by the Washington Business Journal.

The raise was part of a $650,000 offering by the Washington, D.C.-based craft brewery. According to the filing, the company is still offering $35,665 in equity. It’s unclear how the new funding will be used.

In 2017, D.C. Brau increased its production capacity to 45,000 barrels, however, the company’s volume has remained roughly flat since 2015, hovering around 15,000 barrels. Co-founder and CEO Brandon Skall told the Business Journal in March that the company would produce around 18,000 barrels in 2019.

Earlier this year, D.C. Brau launched a line of hard seltzers called Full Transparency in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of FMBs such as White Claw and Truly.

450 Brewing Admits Miscalculating ABV

Columbus, Indiana-based 450 North Brewing Company has posted an apology on its social media accounts for selling its Slushy line of beers with the incorrect alcohol by volume.

“After being made aware of possible inconsistencies in the ABV levels of our Slushy line of beers, we sent samples to be tested by an independent lab,” owners David and Brenda Simmons wrote. “The findings were unexpected. The independent testing of multiple Slushys has determined that our calculation process was critically flawed.”

Good Beer Hunting traced the story back to a screenshot of lab test results of 450 North’s Slushy XL Elephant Ears that showed the beer’s actual ABV was 2.56%, rather than the advertised 8%.

In their apology note, David and Brenda Simmons attributed the disparity in ABV to the addition of adjuncts post-fermentation. 450 North has since removed the stated ABVs from Slushy labels, but the couple said they would be added to the cans in 2020.

“We have made mistakes in the past, and we’ll probably make some mistakes in the future,” they wrote.

The Slushy product line also includes fruited Berliner Weisses such as Slushy XL Triple Berry, which 450 North touted on Instagram as being conditioned on 1,000 pounds of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries and 8% ABV. An Instagram post on December 11 noted that 4-packs of several Slushy variants were available for sale at prices ranging from $18 to $25.

Questions of quality and safety have been previously raised with past 450 North fruit-forward offerings after consumers noted exploding cans due to fermentation continuing after packaging. Good Beer Hunting previously reported that the brewery’s staff, including assistant brewer Brian Pine, admitted exploding cans were an issue, but placed responsibility on consumers to keep the product cold because “if you want something super fruity, that’s the risk you’ve got to take, it seems like.”

Russian River to Bottle Pliny the Younger in 2020

Russian River Brewing Company will bottle its sought-after triple IPA, Pliny the Younger, for the first time ever for the beer’s annual February release.

“It is important for us to find ways to add to our guests’ experience, especially for those who come year after year,” the Northern California-based craft brewery wrote in a press release. “We are excited to announce that Pliny the Younger 2020 will include something we have never done before, and said we would likely never do.”

Pliny the Younger will be sold in 510 mL bottles when the beer is released on February 7 at Russian River’s Santa Rosa and Windsor, California-based taprooms. Sales are limited to two bottles per person. Although kegs of Pliny the Younger will be sold via distribution, bottles will only be available at Russian River’s taprooms.

CB Craft Brewers Founder Dead at 63

CB Craft Brewers founder Mike Alcorn has died at age 63, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Alcorn founded the Honeoye Falls, New York-based craft brewery in 1997. The brewery closed at the end of August after 22 years.

Alcorn’s wife, Luanne, announced his death in a December 23 Facebook post.

“It is with a completely broken heart I send this message to tell you that my love and soulmate, Mike Alcorn, passed away this morning at 5:44,” she wrote. “His passing was peaceful and our children and I were with him. …. My heart is broken but I know he is kicking those cowboy boots and rocking that Stetson in the loving arms of God. Be at peace all whose life he blessed.”

A celebration of life is slated for 10 a.m. January 4, at Elim Gospel Church in Lima, New York.


This story was updated on January 3 to reflect that the ILWU is not affiliated with the AFL-CIO.


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