Beer News

News by | Jul 2008 | Issue #18
Photo by Mateusz Atroszko

By Andy Crouch & Todd Alström

One-third of the food we eat exists thanks to the honeybees’ pollination of plants that yield fruits, vegetables and nuts. However, the honeybee is disappearing due to a phenomenon termed “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD). The cause of CCD is not yet known and its progression could be globally catastrophic. To help raise awareness and support, Dundee Brewing Company has pledged to donate a portion of the profits from every Dundee beer sold in the US during 2008 to The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, a fitting cause, as they’re the makers of Dundee Honey Brown, which is brewed with natural honey. But Patrick Magallanes, vice president of marketing, insists the issue of CCD extends beyond the honey supply. “Local farmers throughout the country are faced with the possibility of losing crops, which ultimately affects the livelihood of local economies,” he says. “That’s why Dundee Brewing Company is committed to raising awareness and supporting this issue through the sale of its Dundee brands.” [TA]

Fire at the Matt Brewing Co.

A devastating fire recently tore through a substantial section of the Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, N.Y. The blaze, which started when brewery employees accidentally ignited flammable material during a welding project, was ruled by fire officials to be an accident. Damage estimates range in the multi-millions for the fire, which destroyed the historic brewery’s canning operations and substantially damaged its bottling business. As the third-oldest family-operated brewery in America, the Matt Brewing Co. is also a leading contract brewery, producing brands for companies like Brooklyn Brewery. The brewery has received support from the community as well as political and bureaucratic leaders. New York Governor David Paterson toured the site after the fire and vowed to help the brewery rebuild. Officials from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau have allowed the brewery a 60 day period in which to make arrangements to have its beer shipped offsite for packaging. [AC]

Oregon Beer Distributors Unite to Fight A-B

Taking a cue from the Coors-Miller merger, three regional Oregon distributors are merging forces to cut costs, aggregate deliveries, alleviate debt and create some aggressive competition for Anheuser-Busch. Pending supplier approval, Mt. Hood Beverage (Springfield), Columbia Distributing (Portland) and Gold River Distributing (Medford) announced they’d join forces as CoHo Distributing, the formation of which would create one of the largest distributors in the Northwest and represent more than 35 million cases in annual sales of beer and nonalcoholic beverages, covering accounts from Northern California to the Canadian border. Combined, CoHo would represent beers from giants like Coors, Miller, Pabst, Corona, Heineken, Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Guinness, plus an impressive list of craft beers from smaller brewers. [TA]

Space Beer?

A crop of third generation barley, originally from 0.14 ounces of seedlings that spent five months in a zero-gravity environment on the International Space Station in 2006, are being harvested and turned into beer. According to Sapporo Holdings—the brewer and one of Japan’s largest beverage makers—they plan on collaborating with scientists at Japan’s Okayama University to brew what’s been dubbed “the first space beer.” Only 100 bottles are being made and the beer will not be for retail sale, however, Sapporo says some lucky consumers will get to try it once it’s ready in November. Scientists working on the Russian project to investigate growing edible plants in space, claim that they’ve yet to find any differences between Earth-grown and space-grown barley. And the big question from beer geeks is: Will it taste out of this world? [TA]

The Battle of the Titans Rages On!

News of a potential merger of brewing titans Anheuser-Busch and InBev, two of the world’s largest breweries, recently resurfaced in international business journals. Rumors of the potential deal—which have InBev either seeking a merger of equals or initiating a takeover, have been circulating for more than a year but heated up again after leaks from anonymous European bankers. The news comes on the back of a statement to distributors by A-B’s Chief Executive Officer, August Busch IV, assuring that the brewery would not be acquired while he was its leader. A strategic merger between the two companies would create the world’s largest brewery and a dominant force in key brewing markets, from Latin America to Europe and in the United States. Financial and legal analysts acknowledge that any possible deal would likely face close, if not prohibitive, scrutiny from regulators across the globe. [AC]