All posts by Will Lucas

Anheuser Busch, SABMiller Merger Worth A Reported $105 Billion

After several proposals by Anheuser Busch InBev, SABMiller has accepted terms for a $105 billion takeover that will create the world’s largest beer company holding roughly 30% of the global beer market. The deal will face antitrust scrutiny throughout much of the world, with Anheuser Busch InBev facing its biggest challenges in the U.S. and China.

In the United States, AB InBev controls roughly 45% of the beer market through its Budweiser macro brews, as well as an increasing number of craft brewers across the country. SABMiller holds a smaller share in the market, but it’s MillerCoors partnership with Molson Coors Brewing Company holds a 25% share leading many analysts to expect AB InBev to sell MillerCoors off in an effort to finalize the merger.

Meanwhile in China, SABMiller controls a 23% market share through its joint venture with government-supported China Resources Enterprise Ltd, and AB InBev holds a 14% share, giving Anheuser Busch a 37% share of the 71 billion liters of beer sold annually. While AB InBev’s stake in China’s market would be significantly lower than in the U.S., analysts anticipate the Chinese authorities to be hesitant in allowing a foreign company to control over a third of the market, and could force AB InBev to sell SABMiller’s 49% stake in China Resources Enterprises Ltd.

The proposed merger comes at the heels of a craft beer revolution that sees independent breweries controlling an increasing percentage of the U.S. market (currently 11%). AB InBev has long been at war with independent brewers, buying up distributers across America and purchasing craft brewers such as: Goose Island, Elysian, and 10 Barrel. The new mega merger between the two beer giants would remove the fierce competition between Budweiser and Miller, and unite them against the budding craft beer market.

The sky isn’t falling quite yet for craft brewers according to University of Kentucky economics professor, Frank Scott, who says, “Despite the concerns from small-scale brewers, the merger might end up making craft beer more attractive to consumers — because if the merged company starts raising prices on Bud and Miller Lite, craft beer isn’t going to look so expensive.”

Only time will tell how the merger will affect the local and global beer markets, but in the meantime we can sit back, relax, and wait for the next Clydesdale commercial.

HopCat To Expand With 6 New Locations

Since opening their first location in 2008, HopCat has run its business around the simple mission of delivering great food, great beer, and great music to the people. With plans to double their locations from six to twelve in 2016, they are working on bringing craft beer to an even larger market.

Seeking to fill a void of craft beer options in Grand Rapids, beer lover Mark Sellers founded as a place where friends could hang out and enjoy new local brews, as well as options from around the country and around the world. Now part of the BarFly Ventures family, alongside Stella’s Lounge, McFadden’s, and Grand Rapids Brewing Company, HopCat is now one of the staples in the burgeoning craft beer scene of Grand Rapids.

HopCat’s success in Grand Rapids caused for quick expansion throughout the rest of Michigan and even beyond the state boundaries. In 2013, HopCat decided to expand their brand and open a second location in East Lansing. The bar, adjacent to Michigan State University campus, offered a staggering 100 craft beers on draft as well as free “crack fries”. New locations soon followed in Detroit, Indianapolis, Madison, Ann Arbor, and Lexington. Now, a $25 million deal with a Texas-based lender will help HopCat finance 30 new locations over the next several years, starting with the recently announced upcoming location in Lincoln, NE.

Chris Knape, VP of Marketing and Communications, also known around the company as Mr. Propaganda, is extremely excited about the opportunity to expand HopCat further. “We wanted to see if the concept had legs [and] it was successful so we decided to expand.” While expansion on this sort of level can provide some challenges for a brand of any kind, Knape is sure that all of the HopCat locations, new and old, will stay true to their craft beer core.

8 Great Pumpkin Beers for Fall 2015

Between whey protein and Oreos, the pumpkin spice craze has reached new heights with its latest vehicle, pumpkin beer. That is, if pumpkin-style ales weren’t already over 400 years old. That’s right, despite their recent resurgence in the American beer market, pumpkins have been used in the beer brewing process as far back as 1643 when colonists discovered that their natural fermentable sugars could be used in place of malts, which were scarcely available in early America. While the use of pumpkins in beer waned through the 19th century, the recent resurgence of the style harkens back to the beers our founding fathers drank and should be considered anything but basic. Here are 8 pumpkin beers that you need to have in 2015:

 

Ballast Point – Pumpkin Down – San Diego, CA

Style: Scottish Ale, ABV: 5.80%

A play on their Piper Down Scottish ale, Pumpkin Down boasts Ballast Point’s signature toasted malt flavor with hints of pumpkin and spices to create a drinkable fall brew.

“The caramel and toffee maltiness of our Piper Down Scottish ale is the perfect backdrop for a boatload of roasted pumpkin. Just before bottling, we add a subtle amount of spice to complement, but not overwhelm, the earthy flavor.”

 

Cigar City – Good Gourd – Tampa, FL

Style: Imperial Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 8.50%

With a pumpkin taste as high as its alcohol by volume, Cigar City’s Good Gourd delivers an ale that’s not afraid to treat the pumpkin as a vegetable and let its natural flavor shine above a bed of malts and medium spices.

“Bursting with real pumpkin flavor and yummy pumpkin spices including Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican all-spice, Zanzibar cloves and nutmeg, Good Gourd is a celebration of Fall and that spookiest of holidays, Halloween.”

 

Dogfish Head – Punkin Ale – Rehoboth Beach, DE

Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 7.00%

Named after the annual Punkin Chunkin pumpkin launching championship in Nassau, Delaware, Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale delivers a smooth taste with a sweet brown sugar finish.

“A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.”

 

New Belgium – Pumpkick – Fort Collins, CO

Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 6.00%

An unusual, but satisfying take on the popular ale style, New Belgium blends cranberry juice and lemongrass with their pumpkin and spices to create a tartness not found in any other beers.

“What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. Pumpkick is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing.”

 

New Holland – Ichabod – Holland, MI

Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 5.50%

You’ll lose your head for this drinkable session beer. New Holland’s Ichabod brings together pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg to create pumpkin pie in a bottle.

“Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. After dinner, try it with your favorite dessert.”

 

Samuel Adams – Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Boston, MA

Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 8.50%

Where similar beers often draw their sweetness from brown sugar, Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin draws its from the natural sweetness of its malt to create a hard hitting stout with a mild pumpkin taste.

“This rich and luscious brew indulges in flavor with over 28 lbs. of pumpkin per barrel, for a full bodied sweetness and deep russet color.  Classic pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice ignite a warmth and spark that’s deepened by an undercurrent of roasty smoked malts.”

 

Schlafly – Pumpkin Ale – St. Louis, MO

Style: Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 8.00%

Schafly combines a well balanced mix of spices with pumpkin and butternut squash to create a very drinkable ale despite its high ABV.

“Our Pumpkin Ale blends the spices of the harvest with full-bodied sweetness for a beer that tastes like pumpkin pie. Pounds of pumpkin form a malty foundation that supports the fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.”

 

Elysian – Punkuccino – Seattle, WA

Style: Coffee Pumpkin Ale, ABV: 6.00%

Described as an alcoholic Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Elysian’s Punkuccino is a coffee infused beer mixed with spices, toffee and caramel malts, and subtle baked pumpkin.

“A pumpkin ale with the attitude of a world-weary barista, Punkuccino packs a short shot of Stumptown coffee toddy in your pint with just a shake of cinnamon and nutmeg.”

 

Terrapin Beer Company Launches The Walking Dead Blood Orange IPA

(Athens, GA) Just when the world was getting sick of zombies, AMC acquired the rights to the cult classic graphic novel The Walking Dead and reanimated the genre for television. Set in Atlanta, GA, the new show follows a group of survivors as they battle their way through zombies and the often more dangerous remnants of humanity.

Now, it appears those zombies are invading the craft beer industry. Deemed as the official beer of the undead, Terrapin Beer Company has partnered with The Walking Dead to launch an IPA that allegedly “will have you prepared for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.” The Athens brewery has described its new beer as “made with blood orange peel, and a horrific amount of hops” as it boasts a 6.7% ABV, 73 IBU, a blend of 8 different hops, and the ever so special blood orange ingredient. The new IPA is said to pair well with sweetbreads, chitterlings, and all other finger foods.

While this is not the first time a hit TV show has teamed up with a brewery to release a new beer, The Walking Dead’s partnership with Terrapin Beer Co. feels the most natural of all with their strong Georgia ties, and Terrapin’s numerous appearance within The Walking Dead (seen here below a collapsed zombie).

The Walking Dead Blood Orange IPA hit the shelves on October 5th, 2015 and it is sure to delight craft beer loving fans of the hit series, as it will provide them with much needed comfort while watching their favorite characters fight for survival.

Founders Brewing Co. Forced To Relabel Breakfast Stout In Michigan

(Grand Rapids, MI) As of August 26th, 2015, Founders Brewing Company has officially moved to relabel their Breakfast Stout…at least in Michigan, that is. The label of this ever popular beer has recently come under fire as it was discovered to not have been registered with the state for many years. This, combined with Michigan’s new law prohibiting the depiction of minors on alcoholic beverages, has led the Grand Rapids based brewery to relabeling their Breakfast Stout and removing the iconic imagery.

While craft beer advocates have been whipped into a frenzy, Founders has taken the high road with a simple post on their website reading, “The baby of Breakfast Stout is taking some time away from his crib after being booted from the label in our home state of Michigan.“ The post, along with a new baby-less label, offers a tongue in cheek response to the local law change.

The new label, by original artist Grey Christian, features a note reading, “left the crib for a bit, call me if you need me 616-522-2720.” When dialed, callers receive the message:

“Hey, thanks for calling and checking up on me. I’m currently not allowed in my home state of Michigan, so I’m hanging in the rest of the Founders distribution footprint this fall. Leave me a message to let me know how much you love double-chocolate coffee oatmeal stouts, where you’re drinking your beer, or, how badly you want me to come home. My Founders family may even use your voicemail for something fun. Maybe I’ll see you again next year. Then again, maybe not.”

While it may be some time before we see the iconic baby return to shelves in Michigan, the original label will still be shipped to all other states within the Founders distribution footprint, and it will continue to be available from September through December.

Ann Arbor Welcomes The Trolley Pub

(Ann Arbor, MI) If you love bar crawls, but hate the downtime between stops, Trolley Pub is the right thing for you. Founded in Raleigh, the Trolley Pub offers a unique experience with pedal-powered tours that allow riders to enjoy beverages between stops on a fixed route of local breweries, pubs and restaurants.

Trolley Pub launched in Ann Arbor in September 2015 after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation to allow pedal trolley passengers to consume alcohol they bring on board earlier in the summer. The only requirement is that the operator is not under the influence and has proof of liability insurance. Local ordinances still have the power to prohibit onboard alcohol consumption, but, as of now, Ann Arbor city officials are still reviewing the matter.

Amanda Swan, Managing Partner of the new branch, is very excited to grow the business in Ann Arbor, as a new form of sustainable tourism should be highly appealing to the local community. “It will be a great fit in terms of personality,” Swan asserts. Her team is even looking into opportunities to winterize their trolleys and hopes they can have a solution ready for next winter.

The trolleys are capable of transporting up to 14 passengers and are powered by foot pedals under each of the riders, with steering left in the hands of the designated driver. Customers are allowed to bring whatever beer and wine they would like along for the ride, but liquor is not permitted. There are two types of tours available: private ones for 6-14 people at a flat rate of $375, and mixers for 1-14 people at a price of $30 per ticket. Both types of tours last two hours, and the mixers provide an opportunity for smaller parties to meet new people along their journey.

 

6 Tips for Football Tailgate Success

With the return of fall comes America’s favorite weekend activity: football tailgating. Whether you’re rallying for your alma mater or your hometown NFL team, tailgating is a classic way to get together with your friends and family to eat, drink, and party amongst a brigade of fellow fans. Here are 6 keys to achieving the ultimate football tailgate.

Refreshments – Whether you prefer beer, mixed drinks, or non-alcoholic beverages, having the appropriate refreshments for everyone in attendance can be the cornerstone of a good tailgating venture. It is always a great idea to bring some soft drinks and water bottles so everyone can have something refreshing. Also, do not forget to forget to buy some ice so you can keep your keg and other beverages nice and cold. Please be sure to drink in moderation and stay hydrated.

Food – There is something about the smell of fresh air and lingering exhaust fumes that makes for some great grilling. Make sure you pack a cooler full of burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst, so you can fire up your grill and begin the barbecue. Just don’t forget to bring potato salad, baked beans, or some other sides that can help you turn your meal into a full-fledged feast!

Games – Following the great lawn dart ban of 1988, America has searched for safe and fun alternatives that are appropriate for participants of all ages. Now the football pregame atmosphere is blessed with a multitude of games that are perfect for tailgating, such as cornhole, kan jam, and ladder toss. However, regardless of what activities you decide to have at your event, the only remaining requirement is that you MUST bring a football.

New Friends – A tailgate is a gathering of fans that are coming together from across the country to support their team. It is important to make some new friends and rejoice with fellow football fans that can help you bolster your pregame prayer and other traditions and rituals. Meeting new people that bleed the same colors is a great way to make sure your pregame parties are even better in the future.

Trash Bags – The best way to build good karma for your team is to clean up after your tailgate. You don’t want to be that person who is responsible for littering all over the sacred pregame space. Make sure you bring some garbage bags so you and your crew can quickly clean up all of your trash before you head into the football stadium for kickoff.

Designated Driver – If you got your vehicle to the tailgate safely, you will need to get it home safely as well. Choose a designated driver before you leave for the stadium, so you can make sure you keep everyone around you out of harm’s way once the game is over and it is time to hit the road. Drinking and driving is NOT an option.

Tailgating is one of the best parts about watching football in the fall, and it is a great way to spend some quality time with your family and friends. By following these 6 keys, you will be well on your way to a successful tailgate that will be just as memorable as the game itself!

Michigan State’s Best College Bars

A defining trait of any college town is their local bars, and Michigan State University is no exception. With over a dozen bars and clubs, MSU has a wide variety of places to check out no matter what day you visit. Here are some of the best bars in East Lansing and their weekly specials.

PT O’Malley’s – “It’s Like Cheers, but in Michigan. Everyone knows your name” – Kelly W. PT’s is the kind of place where anyone can become a regular. The waitstaff is friendly, the atmosphere is inviting, and the big game is on every TV.

Monday Specials: $3-4 pitchers, unofficial NBA Jam tournaments.

Rick’s – The twin brother to Ann Arbor’s Rick’s American Cafe, Rick’s East Lansing can best be summed up by the phrase, “I just want to dance.” With the largest and most subterranean of all East Lansing dance floors, Rick’s offers great times and live DJ’s every weekend, and with weekday drink specials, you’ll be able to blow off steam while saving money.

Tuesday Specials: No cover, ½ off everything.

Harper’s Brew Pub – Come for the live music and DJ’s and leave with a growler of Harper’s signature craft beers: Spartan Wheat and Harper’s Ale. Featuring weekly events and daily drink specials, Harper’s Brew Pub is a great place to live it up at night or cheer on the Spartans on football Saturdays.

Wednesday Specials: ½ off food and drinks, all sandwiches $3.75.

The Riv – Ask any Michigan State student to sum up The Riv in one word, and that word will be, “rama”. With cheap burgers, fries, and pitchers, The Riv’s Burgerama Thursday special is no tradition that packs the bar from morning til night, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

Thursday Specials: Burgerama ($2.40 burger and fries. $3.50 pitchers).

Whiskey Barrel Saloon – East Lansing’s only country bar, the Whiskey Barrel Saloon brings the fun with live country artists, line dancing and of course a mechanical bull. Learn to dance from one of their many instructors or just kick back at the bar for some good ol’ fashion Southern fun.

Friday Specials: You Call It’s ($3 on any single liquor or beer).

Crunchy’s – Trivia, comedy, live music, karaoke and craft beer. One of these is the reason you’ll go to Crunchy’s and the rest are the reasons you’ll come back. Great choice for some weekday variety entertainment or some jammin’ karaoke sessions on the weekend..

Saturday Specials: Karaoke and 3 Buckets for $35 (1 bucket of Miller Lite or Labatt Blue, 2 buckets of fries, tots, onion rings, pretzels, or pizza nugs).

Dublin Square – What bar scene would be complete without an Irish pub, and with daily drink specials Dublin Square is a must stop for East Lansing bar goers looking to take in some live music, enjoy a bite to eat from their traditional Irish menu, or step up to the bar for a cold pint of Guinness.

Sunday Specials: $3 Bloody Mary’s, $3 Mimosas & $3 Draft Beers.

Sierra Nevada, Brauhaus Riegele Partner for New Oktoberfest Beer

Every autumn, thousands of beer drinkers across the world come together to celebrate the high holiday of Oktoberfest. Originating in 1810, Oktoberfest has become one of the largest festivals in the world with over 7,200,000 visitors in attendance and approximately 6,900,000 litres of beer being consumed over the course of the 16 day Volksfest in Munich, Germany.

While it is celebrated on a significantly smaller scale in America, the USA has become a staple celebrator in the last weeks of September with many domestic brewers making their own attempt at producing the traditional Märzen style beer. The standard of the Märzen style is so heavily scrutinized that some brewers have even gone so far as to import German grains, malts, and hops just to try and duplicate the unique amber lager. One of the more popular American microbreweries has taken things to new heights by not just importing the ingredients, but incorporating the traditional brewers themselves.

Looking to produce America’s best Oktoberfest beer, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company worked in close collaboration with 600-year-old brewery, Brauhaus Riegele to create a traditional Märzen style beer that is held to the highest standards of the German brewery. Sierra Nevada founder, Ken Grossman, said of the project, “We’re honored that Brauhaus Riegele, is kicking off this Oktoberfest collaboration with us. We’re both family owned, our children are hands on, and we share a passion for great beer. We’re aligned in so many ways, and we’re excited about the outstanding beer that’s emerged.”

Hailed as “The World’s Best Oktoberfest” by Men’s Journal, Sierra Nevada’s 2015 Oktoberfest will be the first in a line of yearly collaborations with different German breweries, and will be made available in stores throughout the month of October.

Sierra Nevada hosted a three-day Oktoberfest celebration from October 2nd to the 4th at their brewery in Chico, CA, featuring a traditional German feast, all day music line-up, and, of course, Sierra Nevada’s 2015 Oktoberfest beer!

Louisville’s Top 5 Best Breweries

Kentucky may be known for their bourbon trail, but Louisville is quickly becoming a hotbed for breweries with more opening every year. With over a dozen to choose from, the beer scene downtown has never been hotter. Here are 5 of the top breweries in Louisville, Kentucky.

1. Goodwood Brewing Company – Sticking with its state’s traditions, Goodwood Brewing Company has taken to applying bourbon distilling techniques to their signature beers. By combining wood barrels and limestone water, they’ve created a line of beers like no other and with Taproom weekly specials you’ll be guzzling down Kentucky tradition all week long.

2. Bluegrass Brewing Company – One of the highlights of craft breweries is the variety and exclusivity of their beers. With seasonal and limited drafts, breweries become packed with patrons waiting to rekindle their relationship with past brews. BBC has turned this approach on its head by offering different draft selections at each of their three locations. This variety combined with a history going back to 1980 makes every visit to Bluegrass a little different than the last, and will keep you coming back to try them all.

3. Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse – Located inside the Louisville Bats Baseball Club, Against the Grain is a top notch destination whether you’re heading into the game or just looking for a cold one and a pulled pork sandwich. With a massive selection of beers available in bottles, you’ll be able to bring your favorite beer home or find that perfect gift for the beer lover in your life.

4. New Albanian Brewing Company – An offshoot of NABC’s Public House & Pizzeria, Bank Street Brewhouse brings a, “beer infused menu of a local food concept (EFC) with the pioneers of the local craft beer movement (NABC).” With a variety of seasonal and session beers and gluten-free options, New Albanian has become a staple of the area and popular watering hole for locals.

5. Great Flood Brewing Company – One of the latest additions to Louisville craft beer scene, this brewery was born out of the backyards of University of Louisville students looking to turn their passion for homebrewing into a profitable business. With 8 beers on draft and cheap growler fills from 4-6pm on the weekdays, Great Flood pays tribute to the breweries that inspired them with quality brews at prices even the brokest college students can afford.