Richmond Struggles with Financial Oversight of Stone Deal
The Richmond City Council was left split on Monday night as members tried to determine how to add more financial oversight to a deal with Stone Brewing, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports. The council is struggling to finalize certain aspects of the deal, specifically, a proposed amendment that would give the council more control over excess revenue the Richmond Economic Development Authority takes in from the project. Currently, the development authority has the flexibility to use such revenues for any lawful purpose, related to the Stone project or not. After Stone announced its intent to build an East Coast operation in the city, the council unanimously voted to give the Richmond Economic Development Authority $23 million to complete the first construction phase of the project, which the company will pay back over a 25-year lease.
Spirits Taking Market Share from Beer
The distilled spirits industry achieved a slight increase in market share against beer for the fifth straight year in 2014, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). Total market share gains versus beer since 2000 amounted to 6.4 points, the group said in a news release. Each point of market share equates to roughly $650 million in supplier sales. “Consumer interest in industry innovations and premium products from distilled spirits producers of all sizes contributed to another year of steady growth in 2014,” said Peter H. Cressy, CEO and president of the Distilled Spirits Council. “In the U.S. market, strong consumer interest in cocktails, along with continuing market access and modernization improvements, is providing the industry with a solid base for future growth.” DISCUS estimates that spirits were 35.2 percent of all beverage alcohol sales in 2014, up from 34.7 a year ago. Comparatively, beer sales made up about 47.8 percent of total beverage alcohol sales last year.
Florida Growler Bill Comes with Catch, Tourism Clarification
A bill that was originally written to simply legalize 64-ounce growlers in the state of Florida has been amended to make it a misdemeanor to fill a growler without proper licensing from the state, according to the Tampa Tribune. Despite the add-on, brewers aren’t likely to contend the bill. “It looks positive for the whole industry,” Josh Aubuchon, executive director of the Florida Brewers Guild, told the website. SB 186, sponsored by State Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), as rewritten, would also clarify the controversial tourism exemption that allows for brewers to operate tasting rooms. To date, the carve out has required beer makers to have “a single complex, which property shall include a brewery and such other structures which promote the brewery and the tourist industry of the state.” This language has left distributors and retailers worried that brewers that currently operate tasting rooms do so in a legal gray area. As re-written, the bill clarifies the language to instead read that a manufacturer need only to “include a brewery” to qualify for the exemption.
Alabama Drafts Growler Bill
The Alabama Brewers Guild is in the process of working on a bill for the 2015 legislative session that would permit direct-to-consumer sales of growlers, according to AL.com. Brewers in the state can currently sell beer by the glass on-site, but sales for off-premise consumption are prohibited outright. Dan Roberts, executive director of the state’s Guild, told the website that revenue from growler sales would help small companies invest in both equipment and people. “It’s leverage to be able to grow your business,” he said.
People are Still Talking About Budweiser’s Super Bowl Ad
In the wake of Anheuser-Busch InBev airing a decidedly anti-craft beer ad for Budweiser during the Super Bowl this past weekend, craft brewers have en masse voiced their anger with the beer giant in tweets, open letters, and parody videos of their own. Not everyone has been so fast to slam the big bad beer conglomerate or coddle the offended craft brewers, however. Dan Fox, a beer ad man who for more than half of his 30-year career ran the Coors Brewing account, has taken to his own blog and challenged craft brewers to lick their wounds and grow up. “Craft beer would do well to embrace competition in place of wasting precious energy whining about how unfair and painful it can be,” he wrote. Though A-B has been blasted for poking fun at craft while gobbling up craft breweries through acquisition, Fox argues there’s hypocrisy on the other side too. “Big Beer in general, and Anheuser-Busch in particular, have suffered the nastiest of slurs over the years from craft brewers and their legion fans,” he continued. “People who chose Budweiser were routinely labeled stupid rednecks and worse by supercilious craft-beer connoisseurs.”