Press Clips: Magnolia Founder Discusses Brewery Sale; Stone’s Berlin Business Profiled

Magnolia Founder Discusses New Belgium Purchase

Last week, a group led by New Belgium Brewing Company, Elysian co-founder Dick Cantwell and Belgium’s Oud Beersel purchased San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing Company out of bankruptcy for $2.7 million.

Following the announcement, Magnolia founder Dave McLean spoke to SFGate — the San Francisco Chronicle’s sister website — about the circumstances surrounding the sale and the potential for the brewery to become the first lambic blendery outside of Belgium.

In the interview, McClean said his company tried “every business strategy” it could before determining that a sale was necessary.

“Trying to find this outside capital without a sale was hard and by the end of last year, it became clear that for everyone involved we should go for the sale,” he told the outlet.

Read the full story here.

Stone’s German Brewery Profiled in LA Times

The Los Angeles Times recently profiled Stone Brewing’s facility in Berlin and, in the report, brewery co-founder Greg Koch laid out a number of obstacles his company is facing in the foreign land.

Among them, the notion that a 501-year-old Reinheitsgebot beer purity law — which stipulates that beer can only be produced using water, barley, hops and yeast — improves the quality of the finished product.

“It’s a form of brainwashing,” Koch told the Times. “Germans have been told by the big industrial brewers over and over again that Americans are incapable of brewing anything that would qualify under the Reinheitsgebot.”

Koch claimed that 95 percent of Stone’s beer would pass Reinheitsgebot.

Another obstacle for Stone is that its beer is sold at both a higher price point and in aluminum containers — packages that haven’t enjoyed the same kind of consumer acceptability in Germany as they have in the U.S.

“Most Germans will react as if that’s a point of pride, like, ‘It’s cheap, it’s a great thing,’” Koch told the outlet. “But I say: Hang on. Cheap is not an attribute. The only possible result of cheap beer is cheap beer.”

This year, Stone will produce more than 9,500 barrels of beer at its German brewery, shipping the beer throughout the country as well as to 24 other European countries, including Britain, Sweden and Scandinavia.

Read more here.

Modern Times Moves Closer to Encinitas Taproom

San Diego’s Modern Times is inching closer to approval for its planned taproom in Encinitas, California.

The city planning commission voted 3-2 in favor of the craft brewery’s latest expansion project, a 150-seat, 32-tap, 3,000 sq. ft. tasting room called the Far West Lounge, according to the Coast News Group.

The project had met opposition from the city’s planning department and a pair of commissioners who were against the business locating in the city’s downtown due to an oversaturation of alcohol-serving establishments.

“We selected this building in large part because of its excellent access to public transportation,” Modern Times CEO Jacob McKean explained to commissioners. “Environmental sustainability is a core value of Modern Times, as is responsible alcohol service, and we feel strongly that public transit access is essential to both.”

The tasting room would be the latest addition to Modern Times’ taproom empire — one that includes a 30-barrel production brewery in San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood as well as two additional San Diego tasting rooms. The company has also stated its intention to open separate outposts in Anaheim and downtown Los Angeles.

Guinness Hires Head Brewer for Maryland Facility

Diageo Beer Company USA has deepened its brewing bench, today announcing that Hollie Stephenson, who most recently served as the brewmaster at Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina, would join the drinks company as a head brewer.

Stephenson will work out of the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House currently being built in Relay, Maryland, the company said.

“It’s something of a coup that we have been able to attract an established brewmaster to join the team,” brewmaster Peter Wiens said in a press release.

Prior to joining Highland brewing Company, Stephenson worked as a brewer at San Diego’s Stone Brewing for three years.

Diageo has said it will open the Relay facility to the public next spring.

Deschutes and Hopworks to Open Outlets at PDX

Deschutes Brewery and Hopworks Urban Brewery will each open retail outlets at Portland International Airport next year, according to the Portland Business Journal.

The Port of Portland is looking to refresh its retail mix by replacing outposts currently held by Rogue Ales and Laurelwood Brew Pub, whose leases are set to expire.

Both craft brewers will reportedly operate under 10-year leases. Remodeling work will begin in 2018 with opening dates slated for the summer.

Illinois Law Allows Beer Producers to Use Cans with Removable Lids

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a law that allows the state’s beer manufacturers to sell can packages with removable lids, according to the Daily Herald.

Craft brewers, including Lombard-based Noon Whistle Brewing, had reportedly lobbied for the legislation to permit cans using the lids.

“We believe this style of packaging creates a more favorable experience for our consumers, and we are excited to get some of our hop forward beers in these cans,” Noon Whistle co-owner Paul Kreiner said in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch InBev Consolidates Russian and Ukrainian Businesses

Anheuser Busch InBev reached a non-binding agreement last week with Turkish brewer Anadolu Efes to merge the two companies’ operations in Russia and Ukraine. The combined company, to be called AB InBev-Efes, will operate through Efes’ financial accounts.

Each company will control a 50 percent stake in the newly formed entity, according to a press release.

A-B had previously acquired a 24 percent stake in Anadolu Efes via its merger with SABMiller, which closed in October 2016.

The deal still hinges on approval by regulatory agencies in Russia and Ukraine. A-B InBev expects the transaction to close during the first half of 2018.

A-B Attempts to Close Brand Awareness Gap

In an effort to solve what it calls “an awareness gap” with potential future employees, the world’s largest beer company has launched a new advertising campaign and documentary series called “We Are All Brewers.”

Despite making and marketing two of the most recognizable beer brands in the world — Budweiser and Bud Light — the Anheuser-Busch InBev name apparently doesn’t have the same cache.

“We had a 66 percent awareness across the United States, which is not bad,” Alexis Smith, Anheuser-Busch’s director of employer brand and digital, told Brewbound. “But definitely for a company of our size and scale and history with the brands that we represent and have in our portfolio, we definitely want to strive to be a lot higher than that.”

Smith called the video series “a huge opportunity” and said that a digital media campaign, along with a “strong recruitment plan,” will roll out to college campuses nationwide.

The “We Are All Brewers” campaign will feature four, 2-minute documentary-style videos that will attempt to tell the company’s story through the lens of its employees, Smith said. The first documentary video, which debuts on Thursday, will highlight how employees can earn promotions and ascend the corporate ladder at A-B InBev.

Other videos to be released throughout the fall will include themes of “never being satisfied,” “ownership and accountability” and building a “better world.”

“We’re really good at marketing our beer brands,” Smith told Brewbound. “We want to take some of that skill set and see how we can use that know-how in this business to also market the company.”

The videos were made in connection with Huge Inc., a digital agency based in Brooklyn.

Watch the first video below.


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