Press Clips: Texas House Advances Taproom Bill; Georgia Governor Signs Direct Sales Bill into Law

Texas House Passes Taproom Bill

The Texas House of Representatives voted Saturday in favor of House Bill 3287, which requires breweries making more than 175,000 collective barrels annually to buy back beer from a wholesaler in order to continue direct-to-consumer sales, according to the Houston Chronicle.

An amendment to the bill, which would have given craft breweries the right to sell to-go beer, something Texas brewers such as Deep Ellum have long fought for, was also rejected.

“Now we prepare for the Senate battle,” Texas Craft Brewers Guild executive director Charles Vallhonrat told the outlet.

State Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth), the bill’s sponsor, claimed the legislation offers protection for craft breweries from multinational companies who might acquire Texas breweries.

“This bill hurts no one,” Goldman reportedly said.

As Brewbound reported last week, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild started a petition opposing the bill. Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) has also come out against the bill.

In the bill’s current form, large brewers such as ABI-owned Karbach Brewing (which is penalized because of its affiliation with the global brewing conglomerate) would be required to repurchase beer that never leaves the brewery premises but is “sold” to a distributor, in order to then sell and serve that beer via their taprooms.

The Chronicle also reported that two other amendments directed at the middle tier failed, including one that would have required distributors to take beer sold to wholesalers back to a warehouse before returning it to a brewery for taproom sales (come to rest). A second amendment would have prohibited wholesalers from charging more than administrative fees for beer that the distributor collected a payment for without handling.

Georgia Governor Signs Direct-Sales Legislation

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal today signed legislation legalizing direct-to-consumer sales in brewery taprooms.

Under the new law, which goes into effect September 1, breweries are allowed to sell up to 3,000 barrels annually through their taprooms to consumers, who can also buy a case of beer for off-premise consumption.

Miller Lite, Samuel Adams Begin Work with New Ad Agencies

MillerCoors has hired a new digital and social media agency of record for Miller Lite, and it’s a familiar name in the beer industry.

“As of this week, Miller Lite is moving their digital creative work from Digitas to DDB Chicago,” a MillerCoors spokesman told Adweek last week. “MillerCoors will continue to work with Digitas on the technical side of the business as they provide maintenance and digital production for MillerCoors’ websites and platforms.”

DDB Chicago helped launch Bud Light in 1981 and worked on that brand until 2011. DDB Chicago is responsible for many of the light beer brand’s most popular campaigns, including “Real Men of Genius,” as well as the popular Spuds MacKenzie and “Whassup?” spots.

Meanwhile, Boston Beer Company’s new agency of record, Boston-based McCarthy Mambro Bertino (MMB), has released its first campaign for the craft brewery as the beer maker looks to turnaround slumping sales.

“We’re looking to better connect emotionally with consumers and we were impressed with MMB’s strategic approach and creative work because it does just that,” Boston Beer Company chief marketing officer Jon Potter told the outlet.

MMB is looking to “breathe fresh energy into the [Samuel Adams] ]brand,” and its first commercial, for Samuel Adams Summer Ale, deviates from past efforts based on the act of brewing to focus on the product, MMB executive creative director Greg Almeida told Adweek.

Summer Ale will feature new packaging and the ads, Almeida told Adweek, are “Jamaica meets Wu Tang meets Sam Adams meets Toy Story.”

Pug Ryan’s Brewery Sold to Ex-Breckenridge Employee

The founders of Colorado-based Pug Ryan’s Brewing, Travis and Annie Holton, who entered the beer business in 1997, have sold their small brewing operation to John and Judy Jordan for an undisclosed sum, according to Summit Daily.

“We just flat out said we need to find the right people to take Pug’s down the road another quarter century, because it’s more important than we are,” Travis Holton told the outlet. “There were some other suitors who would not have understood the culture and would not have been able to hit a home run. So we were fortunate to find the right kind of buyers.”.

The deal reportedly closed last Monday. John Jordan began brewing beer professionally in 1994 and spent the last 17 years at Breckenridge Brewery, where he led the quality control lab for six years. The Jordans aren’t planning to make any significant changes to Pug Ryan’s, however.

“It’s funny because we looked at some other opportunities and it was like, ‘Oh, we can go in and make all these changes,'” John Jordan told the outlet. “With this, there are no changes that need to be made. The culture is here, the people are doing everything they need to do and the beer is awesome.”

Schnuck Markets Hires Ex-A-B President

St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets has hired former Anheuser-Busch (A-B) president David A. Peacock as its new president and COO, according to The Shelby Report.

“Dave’s entrepreneurial spirit, vision and drive, along with his extensive business background, will help us set a strong course for the future,” chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck told the outlet. “His counsel and leadership on our company’s advisory board have been instrumental in positioning Schnucks for growth. Further, his commitment to St. Louis and the region is aligned with Schnucks’ commitment to superior customer experience and community support. Dave also has strong values and a leadership style that will fit well within the Schnucks’ culture.”

Peacock, who joined A-B in 1992, held numerous roles during his time with the brewing giant. He managed A-B’s operations from 2008 through early 2012 and is credited with leading A-B’s negotiating team during its merger with InBev.

With Schnuck, Peacock will reportedly manage the chain’s procurement/merchandising, operations, marketing and communications and supply chain. Schnuck has 100 stores in five states.

“I am excited to work with Todd and his management team more directly on continuous improvement and innovation that will assure industry leadership, customer service and community support for the long term,” Peacock said.

Firestone Trust Donates to Trump Inauguration

A family trust associated with Adam and Katherine Firestone donated $250,000 to the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Santa Barbara Independent reported last week.

The Firestones are trustees of Rock Hollow 2013, which cut a check to Trump’s inauguration committee on January 10.

Firestone Walker spokesman Sean Weir told the outlet that the trust is separate from the beer company, which does not engage in politics or donate to political parties. Weir added that Adam Firestone’s father, Brooks Firestone, has been active in national Republican Party politics since the 1950s and is a former state lawmaker. The Independent referred to the elder Firestone’s politics as more moderate, including being “a solid pro-choice vote on abortion issues.”

Santa Ynez Valley winemaker Tom Barrack ran Trump’s inaugural effort and sought a donation, which the family, longtime winemakers themselves in the valley, obliged.

USA Today Profiles Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis.

USA Today recently profiled Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis, who, together with Fireman Capital Partners, has become one of the industry’s top craft brewery acquirers.

Katechis credited a series of craft partnerships with helping Oskar Blues, the company he founded in 1997, to grow.

“I was a mediocre home brewer but I loved the puzzle of business, of finding people who did know how to do things right,” Katechis told the paper.

Private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners, which purchased a stake in Oskar Blues in early 2015 and helped establish Oskar Blues Holding Company, backed Katechis’ purchases of Florida’s Cigar City Brewing and Michigan’s Perrin Brewing.

Dan Fireman, the firm’s managing partner, told the outlet that he sees partnerships with Oskar Blues as a “safe harbor,” for small and independent brewers.

“We go out of our way to understand their culture and empower them to keep creating,” Fireman said. “The fact that we’re providing resources to help them scale, we’re doing that while trying to preserve what made them successful with their culture.”

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