Victory and Southern Tier Unite Under Artisanal Brewing Ventures
In a move described as an alliance between like-minded breweries, Victory Brewing Company of Pennsylvania and Southern Tier Brewing Company of New York united under a new parent company called Artisanal Brewing Ventures (ABV) on February 16. Created to strengthen the position of the two businesses in an increasingly competitive market, the move will make ABV the 15th largest craft brewing company in the US with an annual production capacity exceeding 800,000 barrels.
“Craft beer is being disrupted to a certain extent,” says Bill Covaleski, Victory’s brewmaster and co-founder. “The game is changing. There are a lot bigger sharks in the tank, and we want to position ourselves for the future. We’re combining into something more defensible, more powerful, more durable.”
Under the umbrella of ABV, Victory and Southern Tier will remain independently operated, with John Coleman, formerly of Pabst Brewing Company, serving as CEO and Bill Wild, formerly of Anheuser-Busch InBev, serving as CFO. Covaleski and Ron Barchet, co-founder and COO of Victory, will also join Southern Tier founders Phin and Sara DeMink on the ABV Board of Directors.
“This really makes a lot of sense,” says Barchet. “We went from succession planning to planning for brewery growth. And we’re getting a return for our shareholders besides more stainless steel.”
Massachusetts Distributor Faces Pay-to-Play Penalty
On February 11, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) issued a ruling against Everett, Mass.-based distributor Craft Brewers Guild imposing a 90-day license suspension or payment of a fine equal to about half its profits over the 90-day period. After a 15-month investigation into pay-to-play allegations, the ABCC found that Craft Brewers Guild spent around $120,000 in kickbacks to Boston-area establishments that carried its beers.
Southern States Push to Update Beer Laws
In February, several laws were introduced to advance beer legislation in southern states. If passed, Alabama Senate Bill 211 and House Bill 176 will make updates to current brewery regulations, including a growler provision allowing breweries to sell 288 ounces per person, per day, for off site consumption. Meanwhile, Mississippi House Bill 846 would give small breweries the right to sell 2,000 barrels or 10 percent of their annual production directly to consumers.
Slovenian Town Building Public Beer Fountain
To stimulate tourism, Zalec, a small town in central Slovenia, is moving forward with plans to build Europe’s first public beer fountain. For about $6, fountain visitors will receive three 10.5-ounce pours of local beer, served in a commemorative glass. Located in the Savinja River valley, Zalec is known for its many hops farms, which grow varieties like Magnum and Styrian Golding. As of press time, Zalec had not established a completion date. ■