The President’s Daily Brief (coolly called the PDB) is a top-secret document produced and given each morning at 7:45 a.m. to the President of the United States. It provides the prez with the juiciest international intelligence warranting attention and analysis. We feel our Monday Beer Brief is not unlike the PDB. Some minor differences: ours is once a week; comes at 10:30 a.m.; is very public; deals mostly with beer; and will occasionally rely on Dune and Voltron jokes to make it readable. These are small discrepancies. Both briefs have their merits, but if you’re a brewing pro or beer super enthusiast, this is the intel you need for your Monday morning.
Former Duvel Moortgat president joins Pabst Brewing Co. as CEO
Those guys from Deer Hunter only drank Rolling Rock. E.T. was a Coors dude. Certain movies, for me, create a nostalgia for a certain brand. Ever since that exchange above in David Lynch’s ‘80s cult weird-flick Blue Velvet, I’ve had a soft spot for PBR.
Frank Booth: What kind of beer do you like?
Jeffrey Beaumont: Heineken.
Frank Booth: [shouting] Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon! That’s what you’ll drink tonight!
Today, PBR is only one of a ton of nostalgia brands brewed by PBC (Pabst Brewing Co.). The holding company contract brews more than two dozen brands of beer and malt liquor from defunct companies — from Lone Star (remember its placement in Urban Cowboy?) and Stroh’s to Schlitz and Colt 45. To keep this nostalgia train running full steam, PBC recently announced that it has named Simon Thorpe as its new chief executive officer, effective December 1. Eugene Kashper, current chairman and CEO, will remain full-time chairman of the board and continue to play an active role in the business. According to the press release:
“We are thrilled to have Simon join the Pabst team,” said [Kashper]. “He is both a true beer industry visionary and a highly respected operator. I have no doubt that Simon’s breadth of experience and proven leadership capabilities will enable us to realize our ambition to become a best-in-class beer supplier and a truly great American brewing company.
Simon was previously president and CEO of Duvel Moortgat USA, where he led the transformation of the company’s U.S. craft brewing business into a respected leader in the craft segment. He was instrumental in building some pretty impressive craft relationships with the likes of Brewery Ommegang in Upstate New York, as well as partnerships with Boulevard Brewing Co. and Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Simon also led the development of Duvel Moortgat’s import brand portfolio including Duvel, La Chouffe, Liefmans and Mardesous.
Walmart has its own craft beer now (hooray)
Global small business destroyer and shopping preference of America’s finest weirdos, Walmart had a 2016 fiscal year of $482.1 billion, which seems pretty good. Each week, nearly 260 million customers visit its 11,593 stores under 63 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries. No one really seems to care that Walmart kills small businesses, underpays women, neglects pregnant workers, discriminates against workers with disabilities, embraces a culture of wage theft, provides poor healthcare for its employees and basically sells a lot of needless, cheaply-made shit.
Adding to its insanely large portfolio of products (the company tripled its online product assortment this year from eight million to more than 23 million items for Cyber Week), Walmart now has its own craft beer. According to an article on The Street:
The world’s largest retailer quietly began selling several craft varieties in its first line of private-label beer during the first quarter. The four versions — Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, Red Flag Amber and ‘Round Midnight Belgian White — are available in 12-packs for $13. And in California only, the company has debuted a brand called Pacific Drift.
Alcohol content is relatively high, as is normally the case with craft beers, hitting 5.8% for the IPA. The beers are available in about 2,200 Walmart stores, out of about 4,600 total U.S. stores.
All these beers are being brewed by Rochester, N.Y.-based Trouble Brewing but none will be offered on tap at bars. Suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as we’ve been reporting about Walmart’s interest in craft beer since 2013.
Great Central Brewing opens as Chicago’s first dedicated contract craft brewer
Great Central Brewing Co. is a cool concept. The company is a dedicated contract brewer specifically for craft brands; it can do everything from helping a client develop a private label brew to just giving a little extra seasonal help for companies that have hit capacity. Great Central just opened its brewhouse in Chicago, and last week it announced its first roster of brewing clients: Maplewood Brewery and Distillery, Begyle Brewing Co. and Like Minds Brewing, all of Chicago. Here’s a quote from the press release:
“Partnering with great breweries like these to make more of what we all love is our singular focus and the reason we founded GCBC,” said CEO and co-founder David Avram. “Their trust in our team, our facility and our dedication to quality is both humbling and exciting.”
Speaking of the Great Central’s 32,000-square foot, state-of-the-art brewing facility: With an initial capacity of 24,000 barrels (bbls) annually, Great Centrals “craft-only facility” has the capability to scale to 125,000 bbls, and the entire operation has been optimized to deliver efficiency and quality for its clients — whether scaling up, offloading to meet seasonal demand or looking to capitalize on the company’s central Midwest location. The company’s staff of hand-picked brewing and packaging experts includes certified cicerones (dang).
Beginning in early-to-mid 2017, consumers will even be able to savor beer brewed at Great Central in the facility’s integrated tasting room.
Craft Brew Alliance’s Director (David R. Lord) sold 6,000 shares of the firm’s stock
In a time when the largest “craft beer” companies in the country seem to be showing slowed growth (at best) results, the Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) portfolio delivered its second consecutive quarter of positive growth. The big storylines coming out of this third quarter are the continued results of its Kona Plus strategy and the renewed vows between it and its sugar daddy, Anheuser-Busch. Overall, things are going well for CBA (a publicly traded company), which owns brands like Kona, Widmer Brothers, Redhook and Omission beers and Square Mile cider, plus five pub operations, four of which are located adjacent to its beer-related operations.
Hmmm… maybe now is perhaps a good time (with big brands scratching at a ceiling) to cash in on some CBA stock. Interestingly, CBA Director David R. Lord recently sold 6,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, November 28. The stock was sold at an average price of $16.05, for a total value of $96,300. Following the sale, the director now owns 29,498 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $473,442. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible right here.
Colorado gets a drive-thru craft brewery/BBQ joint
I went through a drive-thru for the first time in more than a decade over Thanksgiving break. It was a fantastic experience. This automotive-friendly beverage peddler was in Owensville, Ohio, and had exactly one zillion different craft brands I could choose from. Plus, I didn’t have to use my legs like a sucker. Clever folks in Lafayette, Colo., are taking this concept a giant (um) seated leap forward by actually brewing beer onsite and allowing customers to buy it via an actual drive-thru. In January, the Trapp family plans to open Uturn BBQ, a brewery and barbecue joint that will serve up six-packs and food from a drive-thru window. It’s located in a former Burger King at 599 Crossing Drive (which sounds just about right); it will also have indoor and outdoor seating. From an excellent article on Westword:
“The biggest things for us is the convenience factor. Everyone is busy all the time, whether it’s work or outdoor activities and that Colorado lifestyle,” says Weston Trapp, whose family owns Trapp Associates, a restaurant-design firm in Boulder. “What’s really cool about barbecue is that it travels really well. It can go wherever you want to go. So a drive-thru was key for this.”
But so was beer. “We wanted to offer the whole package with one stop,” Trapp explains. Originally, Trapp’s father wanted to sell six-packs of a light, easy-drinking beer like Pabst Blue Ribbon through the window. State liquor laws, however, don’t allow restaurants to sell beer to go unless they brew it themselves. So the family added the brewery and a canning machine to their concept.
To do it, the Trapp’s hired award-winning former Upslope head brewer Alex Violette, an old friend of Weston’s, to design two beers, an American-style stout and a German-style kolsch; for the second beer, Violette obtained a special kolsch yeast strain from Cologne, Germany.