Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Madison brewpubs stop selling MillerCoors beers in protest of budget provision

Good for them! I hope more brewpubs follow their lead.

Though brewpubs apparently won't be affected by the legislation, Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. and Vintage Brewing Co. confirmed this week they had ended sales of MillerCoors brands such as Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Leinenkugel's, Blue Moon and Molson.

Eliot Butler, Great Dane president, said the Dane's four locations have dropped MillerCoors indefinitely "in solidarity with the (Wisconsin) Brewers Guild and with the craft brewers of Wisconsin."

Read the whole (short) article at the Wisconsin State Journal.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Craft Beer & The Restaurant Hypocrisy: An Airing of Grievances

The Beer Wench says what many craft beer drinkers have been thinking: most restaurants and bars don't give a damn about beer. Her major points:

  • The beer lists are uninspired, unoriginal, underwhelming and extremely disappointing.

  • Sales & Marketing 101: If you want to sell a product, you have to know your product.

  • Improper Glassware & Serving Temperature

  • Improper Pouring and Poor Presentation of Craft Beer

Read the whole truth-filled diatribe at Drink With The Wench.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oktoberfest beer prices to crack EUR 9-mark

It's time for the annual "more expensive beer at Oktoberfest" article!

A litre of beer will for the first time top €9 (US$13.20) at this year’s Oktoberfest, continuing a steady march upward in prices at the legendary Munich festival, the city announced on Tuesday.

A Maß of beer will cost up to €9.20 (US$13.50) this year, according to Munich officials. The average price will be €8.97 (US$13.16).

Read the whole story at The Local.

Currency conversion via XE on June 7, 2011 at 11:20am CDT.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Legislation through the budget process burn WI Craft Brewers...AGAIN! Need everyone's help to Rescind!

Here's more on Wisconsin's craft brew distribution battle, from Bo Bélanger of South Shore Brewery.

This is all about Motion #414 as presented to the Joint Committee on Finance at their 5/31/2011 meeting for the 2011-2013 State of Wisconsin budget.

Let's put it this way. The legislation was drafted by the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Assn and Miller/Coors. Their intent, as clearly stated, was to prevent Anheuser-Busch ImBev from buying wholesale beer distributors in Wisconsin. However; ABI, whose executive, Dave Peacock, is quoted in a May 24, 2011 interview in Beer Marketer's Insight Express (Vol. 13 No 48) stating, they currently own only 12 wholesales Nationwide and have zero plans to acquire more. So what gives? This protectionist legislation, inserted into the state's budget, is simply a power grab and competition elimination by these two groups.

Hmmm... which begs, why doesn't Miller/Coors counter that with operating a distributorship themselves? Could it be there brands aren't as strong as AB's? Could it be they are not as financially positioned to do that and are calling for protectionist legislation? Why wouldn't we help out Miller Brewing Company, a Wisconsin icon in the brewing industry... ah, let's see no longer headquartered in WI, no longer WI owned, losing market share to their boogieman AB.

So okay, I'll be specific. The last line on page one of motion #414 states bluntly ' a wholesaler's permit may not be issued to a person who holds a brewers permit'. For gosh sakes that's how the South Shore Brewery and the majority of other WI craft breweries were born! We established the value of our brands. We continue to do that in new markets. That license to self distribute is a tangible asset to the value of a brewery. Now that is gone. They just devalued my business in favor of a foreign owned one. Let's put it another way. Breweries need distributors. Good ones. However, since 1994, the number of distributors has dropped from 94 to 41. Just in the past five years consumers in the Milwaukee area now have only two wholesalers. So that same number of folks now is representing nearly 14,000 brands! How would you feel about your chances of being adequately represented in that market would be? Craft brewers are a fraternity of hardworking WI tax payers, whose contribution to our local and state's economy is growing impressively. Too impressively for the WBDA and Miller/Coors people as they look to push the elimination not only of my owning a wholesalers license, but any also the provision that allows a brewery in be invested in a wholesaler. They don't want us hardworking, tax paying, local investing WI craft brewer's getting together and forming our own distributorships! Heck no they say. Here are the brands we offer, and damnit this is what you get. By the way the later provision is page 2, line number 1 of motion #414.

Could there be more? The dirty ooze just keeps coming out of this motion. Any one that knows the South Shore Brewery and how it's been supported by it's founding in the Railyard Pub and how it continues today, coexisting with the Deep Water Grille here in Ashland, WI also understands how that relationship is a pillar of our ability to showcase our beers to new consumers. Gone. No longer could we establish our business the way it started. Page 2, paragraphs 2 & 3 eliminate any chance of that happening by removing any relationships for a class "B" liquor license or retail license. Oh but wait, the motion convieniently has an exception for the wholesalers who now can sell beer to it's employees and have event's where it is consumed on their premises. So the producer can no longer have a theater for that but the wholesaler can? Yet another tangible asset of value my brewery used to have dismissed. I lose more value again!

Should I stop now? Come on one more Bo...please! So all of you thinking of putting a small brewery in your restaurant or tavern, denied! Page 3, 3rd paragraph, 'Specify that no person holding a Class"A" or Class "B" license or permit or a wholesaler's permit may register as a brewer". If the general public isn't aware of how hard it is operating a food & beverage establishment, let me confirm that the challenges are enormous. Finding a unique specialty to drive business is an ongoing enterprise. Well forget about making beer!

Please help the small craft brewers stand against this motion. It is out of committee and hits the legislative bodies where we need to sway several politicians on BOTH sides. The motion can be recinded in this part of the legislative process. One last thing. There are many posts and comments out there trying to ferret out what is the reality. I am the reality. I am a WI beer producer! This legislation has been authored behind closed doors, by groups unrelenting in their efforts to control market access and share. They are anti WI craft beer. They show their collective cowardess by introducing this motion in the budgetary process. Additionally, they finally revealed their plot, literally, five minutes before the motion was to be voted on. I'm pissed off. I'm not here to take political sides. I stand on my assessments of this motion and any politician that can't see it as a severe impedance to our industry isn't worth supporting.

Want to know where to take your concerns? We need every legislator, Democratic, Republican and Independent, the governor to hear the voices of support for WI craft brewers. Please at least send a message to your reps and if you feel the emotion like the rest of us give these folks a piece of your mind as well... This is the list of folks on the Finance Committee.

Take the time to read the comments on Bo's Facebook page.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wisconsin Legislature Attacks Craft Brewers

One of the many great things about being a brewer in Wisconsin was the ability to self-distribute our beers, something that is impossible here in Nebraska. Self-distribution gives the small brewer a foot in the door, and without it, Wisconsin wouldn't have nearly the beer diversity that it enjoys today. Lots of people would be out of work, and lots of tax money wouldn't be flowing into Wisconsin's coffers.

New legislation drafted by MillerCoors aims to change that. Under the guise of protecting MillerCoors from Anheuser-Busch InBev, the bill would institute a strict three-tier system. No holder of a brewer, wholesaler, or retailer license could hold a license in another category.

This bill is also supported by the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association, the Tavern League of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Grocers Association, the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores Association, the Wisconsin Wine & Spirits Institute, large organizations that do most of their business with the big brewers.

The Wisconsin Brewers Guild, which represents about one-third of the state's craft brewers, was not consulted on the bill, even though there are provisions that will actively harm them.

Of course this has nothing to do with ABI. This is all about MillerCoors dictating what brewers can and cannot do in Wisconsin. No self-distribution means a lot fewer brewery startups, and very likely a lot of brewers going out of business.

The Tavern League has their grimy mitts in this as well, supporting a provision to ban brewers from operating pubs and restaurants, even on the brewer's own property.

Jay Brooks has posted one of his always-excellent rants on this subject.

Obnoxiously, Horton added that “the fundamental issue is whether small craft brewers want to be brewers or want to be brewers, wholesalers and retailers.” Given the way small brewers have been treated by distributors and retailers over the years, as they struggled against some pretty big, entrenched institutions to change how people thought about beer, that’s an awfully insulting thing to say. Craft brewers have had to find creative ways to gain access to market out of necessity, including doing their own selling and distributing, precisely because of all the roadblocks put in their way by distributors, retailers and big brewers, the very people who are trying once more to harm their business with this new legislation. So to hear MillerCoors suggest that small brewers should behave more like them, after making it impossible for them to do so for decades, is a pretty offensive thing to say.

There's a lot more; read Jay's article at The Brookston Beer Bulletin.

If you're in Wisconsin, find out who your legislators are and bombard them with opposition to this bill. Let them know that you support craft brewers, and that you vote.