• Anheuser-Busch Opposes North Carolina Brewer’s Natty Trademark



    A North Carolina craft brewer seeking to trademark its name, Natty Greene’s, is facing opposition from Anheuser-Busch, maker of Natural Light beer.


    Greensboro, N.C.-based Natty Greene’s Brewing Co. filed an application for a trademark of the phrase “Natty Greene’s” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last August. In its application, the craft brewer said it’s used the phrase in commerce for a decade.


    Natty Greene’s is named for Nathanael Greene, a Revolutionary War general for whom dozens of U.S. cities and counties have been named, including Greensboro.


    “We really wanted to attach the name to the community,” said Kayne Fisher, who co-founded what’s grown to become the third largest brewer based in North Carolina with college roommate Chris Lester.


    Natty Greene’s has grown annual production to 17,000 barrels and recently started shipping its beer to parts of South Carolina and Virginia.


    It was that growth outside its state borders that prompted the trademark application for the company’s name, Fisher said. Natty Greene’s successfully trademarked its beers, including Buckshot Amber Ale and Southern Pale Ale, this year.


    But St. Louis-based A-B, the North American headquarters for A-B InBev, filed an opposition Wednesday for the North Carolina brewer’s application.


    A-B introduced Natural Light beer to the market in 1977, making it the brewer’s first reduced-calorie light beer. After the launch, A-B trademarked the phrases “Natty Light,” “Fatty Natty” and “Natty Daddy.” A-B also sells Natural Ice beer.


    “Since at least 1998, and well prior to the filing date of the application, (A-B) has established a family of Natty-formative marks used in connection with beer,” A-B states in its opposition filing, adding it has “sold millions of dollars’ worth of beer under the Natty marks, and has spent millions of dollars advertising and promoting its products under these trademarks.”


    A-B spokesman Adam Warrington said it’s routine for companies to oppose trademark filings to protect their intellectual property and stressed that its opposition only relates to the trademark, not Natty Greene’s ability to sell beer.


    “A trademark opposition concerns only an applicant’s right to register a mark,” Warrington said in an email. “With that, Anheuser-Busch has filed a notice of opposition against the Natty Greene’s Brewing Company’s beer trademark application, based on our established right in NATTY-related trademarks. Natty Light is a well-known national brand that we have invested in for more than 15 years.”


    Natty Greene’s has not yet filed an answer with the trademark office related to the opposition, but Fisher said he’ll continue to seek the trademark.


    “I feel it’s unfounded, that it’s a nuisance filing,” Fisher said. “We’re a blip on the radar to them, and I don’t think there’s any confusion between us and Natty Light.”


    Trademark battles have become common in the beer industry nationwide as the number of craft brewers grows.


    In December, Montana-based craft brewer Big Sky Brewing sued A-B, alleging Big Sky had used the slogan “hold my beer and watch this” since at least 2004, and A-B was infringing on its trademark by using the phrase in advertising. A-B and Big Sky settled the dispute in January, after A-B removed several videos for its Bud Light brand on YouTube that highlighted the phrase.

    Source: http://www.stltoday.com/

  • Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors Post Beer Ingredients

    No Anheuser-Busch

    Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, two of the world’s biggest beer makers, are posting online what’s inside bottles of Budweiser and Miller Lite after pressure from a food blogger.


    The two companies on Thursday posted the ingredients of some of their most popular brands, and promised to be more transparent in the future. The announcements come a day after blogger Vani Hari posted a petition on FoodBabe.com to get major brewers to list what’s in their beverages.


    Anheuser-Busch posted the ingredients for its two top-selling brands on its website, tapintoyourbeer.com. It lists the same ingredients for Budweiser and Bud Light: Water, barley malt, rice, yeast and hops. The company, which also makes Beck’s, Busch and Michelob beers, said it will list the ingredients for all of its other brands online “in the coming days.” It’s the first time Anheuser-Busch has detailed the ingredients of its beers.


    MillerCoors posted the ingredients of Miller Lite, Coors Light and six other brands on its Facebook page. Most are made from water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops, the company said.


    “We also value transparency and are happy to comply with the request for additional information,” MillerCoors said in a statement. The company says that consumers can call to ask what ingredients are in their beer, and it will also put more information online “in the days ahead.” Its other brands in the U.S. include Peroni and Redd’s Apple Ale.


    Both companies said that they are not required to list ingredients, but are doing so voluntarily because customers want it.


    The online petition, started Wednesday by Hari, now has more than 44,000 signatures.


    Hari has become a powerful voice in the food industry. She is the same blogger who pushed sandwich chain Subway to remove an ingredient in its bread that’s also used in yoga mats. Subway has since removed that ingredient.


    She chose to petition beer makers because her husband drinks beer and she wants to be able to see what she is buying.


    Representatives from Anheuser-Busch invited Hari and her family to visit its brewery in St. Louis and see how its beers are made. Hari said she is working with the company to figure out a time to visit.


    Anheuser-Busch is part of the world’s largest brewer, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev. MillerCoors is a joint venture owned by London-based SABMiller PLC and Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Co.


    Source: http://money.msn.com/

  • Beer Giants Pushed to List Ingredients

    No Anheuser-Busch

    The nation’s two biggest beer makers are getting cold water thrown on their long-held policies of not disclosing all of the ingredients in their brews.


    An online petition to change that — asking Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors to post their beer product ingredients online — is being spearheaded by influential food blogger and nutritional activist Vani Hari, creator of FoodBabe.com.


    At issue: It’s the Treasury Department — not the Food and Drug Administration — that regulates beer. So the beer giants are not required to post ingredients on their labels or on their websites. Hari says even though the law doesn’t require it, consumers have a right to know what’s in the beer they drink. And she wants the beer giants to post it on their websites.


    “We know more about what’s in a bottle of Windex and Coca-Cola than we about one of the world’s most popular drinks, beer,” says Hari.


    Among the ingredients Hari has discovered in some beers sold by the big beer makers: Prolyene Glycol, which is commonly used in airplane de-icing liquids, but used by some beermakers to control the head on their beers. Also, something called Isinglass, which comes from fish swim bladders, is used to make beer more clear. Some use high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and stabilizers that are linked to intestinal inflammation, she says.


    Hari says she’s not asking beer makers to change their formulas — or their labels. “I’m not asking for government involvement,” she says. “I’m asking for voluntary disclosure on their websites.”


    Miller, in a statement sent to USA TODAY, says it’s getting there. “MillerCoors led all alcohol beverage companies with a voluntary nutritional labeling panel earlier this year starting with our Miller64 brand. We value transparency and we will strongly consider the request for putting more ingredient information online,” said the statement from spokesman Pete Marino.


    But Hari rejects that. “Nutritional labeling is distinctly different than ingredient disclosure, and it is not enough transparency for consumers to avoid additives like the corn syrup they use in many of their beers,” she says.


    A-B, in a statement, says that its beers are made “to the highest standards of quality and consistency, (and) use pure, fresh, natural ingredients.” It says its beer ingredients meet all standards for food safety set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. And it lists information about nutrition and ingredients at its global consumer information website, www.tapintoyourbeer.com.


    The action comes at a time when consumers are increasingly demanding more information about what’s in their products. Just last week, Panera announced plans to remove all artificial additives from its food menu by the end of 2016. Petitions by Hari are no small matter for food and beverage makers. One of her previous petitions coaxed an embarrassed Subway to agree to remove a chemical from its sandwich breads that’s commonly used in yoga mats and shoe rubber.


    Hari’s previous petitions targeting not only Subway, but also Kraft and Chipotle, have garnered more than 500,000 signatures, she says. Because consumers — particularly tech-savvy Millennials — are so concerned about food ingredients, the big food and beverage makers are increasingly worried about consumer backlash from such petitions going viral.


    Signatures on Hari’s petition will be sent via e-mail to the CEOs of Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors.


    “It’s shocking that these companies don’t disclose their ingredients,” says Hari. “But it’s even more shocking that millions of us drink these beers without knowing what’s actually in them.”


    Source: http://www.usatoday.com/

  • Would You Pay $1,000 Once to Get Free Beer for Life?

    beer-moneyA brewpub and a coffee shop in Minnesota’s Twin Cities have used this one-time payment method to save their businesses. And there’s no reason to think the model can’t spread.


    There is a price tag for unlimited beer for the rest of your life. It’s $1,000.


    In reality, the cost for that much beer is a lot more. But for a few dozen people, free beer for life is their reward for investing in a small restaurant called Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub in a quiet southern corner of Minneapolis.


    Amy Johnson and her two business partners needed to raise $220,000 to secure a bank loan and fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub. They went to investors who offered to give heavily for a voting share in the restaurant. But since the potential investors had no experience in the restaurant industry, the owners backed away.


    And then came the idea from some friends and family who wanted to help out. “They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” Johnson recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?”


    So, that’s what they did. People who invested $1,000 receive free in-house beer for the rest of their lives, or as long as the place stays open. People could also receive 0.1 percent nonvoting equity in the company for every $1,000 invested. Or for $5,000, investors get 0.5 percent equity and free in-house beer for life. The brewpub, now a registered LLC, hit its goal of $220,000 through the 46 people who chose the first option, 42 who picked the second, and 30 who took the third, all finding out about the opportunity by word of mouth.


    Northbound has now been open for almost two years and is thriving. The investors didn’t drink them dry. The restaurant is giving away some 17 beers a day, and the cost is low, at just 40 cents a beer. Plus, investors aren’t just going to the brewpub for a beer by themselves—they order food, bring people, or maybe order a scotch after dinner. For the investors, it’s also about the sense of ownership. Or, as Johnson explains, “We have an army of over 100 people who are our cheerleaders.”


    One of those cheerleaders is Andy Root, the owner of the building and one of the investors who decided to give $1,000 to the cause of free beer. His simple reasoning: “Hey, if I live nearby and it’s my neighborhood bar, I’m going to pay $1,000, because I’m a beer drinker and show up and drink.”


    The whole project is a Kickstarter campaign with a twist. Since Kickstarter doesn’t allow alcohol as a reward for investment, it’s basically useless for a restaurant where the greatest allure is in-house beer.


    It’s also a model that could help wannabe restaurants across the country. It has already been used in neighboring St. Paul by a struggling coffee shop looking for a fresh start.


    Groundswell is a fitting name for this coffee shop in the Midway neighborhood, which has transformed from being in a space and bleeding cash to now operating in three times the space and earning eight times the daily profit. And it all happened in one year, and all from the support of 75 people willing to give $1,000 on a gamble.


    To create a complete menu—with food made from scratch, with a beer and wine license—and to take over more of their building, the owners needed to raise $55,000.


    The coffee shop decided to use the Northbound model, which it saw working for the brewpub, but with its own spin. Instead of unlimited beer for life and equity, Groundswell offered investors $1,000 for one beer, glass of wine, or cup of coffee per day for the rest of their lives. For $500, the deal lasted two years. For $250, the deal lasted a year. The exact Northbound model wouldn’t have worked as well for Groundswell, considering the extra costs for beer in a place that doesn’t make it in-house.


    “From the business side of it, it was a no-brainer,” co-owner Tim Gilbert says. “When someone comes in to have a beer, they’re probably not just going to have one, they’re probably going to bring friends with them, they’re going to be buying food items with it. Even with a cup of coffee, margins on coffee are high as it is.”


    Groundswell went from making $200 a day last year to now making $2,400 a day. And that was during Minnesota’s colder months. Since people are leaving hibernation, the coffee shop is opening up its patio, which offers more space, and with it more business. “The corner of Hamlin and Thomas is now alive,” Gilbert says.


    It’s a model that worked for both of these places, and could work across the country.


    Like Northbound, Groundswell thrives primarily because of the neighborhood. They are two, small eateries, two blocks from light-rail stops, with investors living in surrounding homes. Before she started Northbound, Johnson used to live in one of those homes in the Midway neighborhood, grabbing coffee at what is now called Groundswell. In just a few years, her idea that built the brewpub would become the prototype that would save the coffee shop she once regularly visited.


    Source: http://www.citylab.com/

  • America’s Thirst for IPA Beers Trickles Down to the Hop Farmers

    Hops and barleyThis is a great article sent in by long time reader Husar.

    The most popular style of craft beer in the U.S. right now is India Pale Ale. Not only do Americans want hopped-up craft beer in pale and brown ales, they prefer more fragrant, costlier hops.


    The average price for all hops was $3.59 per pound in 2013, nearly twice as much as in 2004, according to data (PDF) from the Hop Growers of America:


    Craft beers make up about 8 percent of U.S. sales by volume and tend to use more aroma hops (which give beers their citrus, pine, and other notes) than alpha hops (which lend a bitter flavor). Aroma varieties cost more because of lower yields, says Ann George, executive director of the Hop Growers of America, and the higher demand is luring some growers to remove alpha varieties to grow the aromas. Aroma hops can cost two to as much as seven times more per pound than alpha hop varieties, according to Chris Swersey, technical brewing projects manager at the Brewers Association.


    Cost has not stopped craft brewers from using higher-priced hops in high concentrations. While the average beer is made with about 0.2 pound of hops per 31 gallons, craft brewers use 1.25 pounds, according to George.


    Even within the craft industry, the use of hops is now greater than it was in 2009 because of the current IPA boom, Swersey says. Consumers’ desire for hop-heavy craft beers has stabilized, he says, so hops sales now will be driven by volume increases rather than shifts to even more flavorful varieties.


    As craft continues to rise, U.S. farmers are turning out more aroma hops. The country’s primary hop growing state, Washington, historically had about 70 percent of its acreage in alpha varieties and 30 percent in aroma. During the past few years the ratio has shifted to about 50-50, and the outlook for 2014 is 40 percent alpha to 60 percent aroma.


    The shift to pricier varieties is helping hop farmers turn profits on a crop that has lost money for years; the industry suffered an oversupply during the recession. George says prices are likely to remain high in the near term to pay for infrastructure improvements to meet craft brewers’ more demanding requirements. An average-sized grower in the Pacific Northwest will be investing upwards of $5 million, she estimates.


    The change has also led to an increased number of hop farms, many of which are small and supply only local brewers located outside the main growing region in the Northwest. According to the recently released U.S. Agriculture Census (PDF), there were 166 hop farms in 2012 compared to 68 in 2007. Craft beer, it seems, isn’t just luring new brewers and drinkers.

    Source: http://www.businessweek.com/

  • Craft Beer Market Share Bigger than Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors Combined

    No Anheuser-Busch

    And the tide is starting to turn.  It seems that in Portland craft beer is now outselling Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors.

    Craft $$ sales up 16.3% in Portland IRI foodstores yr-to-date thru 3/30 while total beer $$ up 6.8% overall.  Portland mkt off to a very healthy start in 2014. But with craft’s continued outsized growth in its most developed mkt, craft jumped 3.8 share of $$ to 45.8.  Craft now bigger than Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors combined. They are down to 40.6 share of $$ in Portland foodstores. Down another 2.1 share, even tho their $$ sales up 1.5% each here.  MC at 23.7 share of $$ in IRI foodstores, off 1.2, and ABI down to 16.9, lost 0.9 share.


    Portland mkt is currently tough for all larger suppliers, including craft. Each of top 6 suppliers in city lost share of $$ (in descending order: AB, MC, CBA, Deschutes, Crown and Pabst) and lost 3.9 share collectively.  Craft Brew Alliance off to rough start. Its $$ sales down 13% and it lost 1.4 share of $$ to 6.2.  Deschutes $$ sales up just 0.7% and it lost 0.4 share to 6.1.  Who’s comin’ on? Boston Beer doubled again.  Up 99.8% and gained 1.6 share of $$ to 3.5.  But that’s likely mostly Angry Orchard. Cider mkt in Portland is unbelievable.  At 5 share. Up 73% and gained 2 share.   Wow!  Ninkasi also continues up strong.  Up 25% and gained 0.5 share of $$ to 3.4.  Both Boston and Ninkasi passed Heineken USA in Portland. HUSA $$ down 3% and lost 0.3 share to 2.8.


    The other big gainer still comin’ on is Ten Barrel, up 131% and gained 1 full share of $$ in Portland to 1.8, almost as big as Diageo there.  So Boston, Ten Barrel and Ninkasi gained 3 share of $$ yr-to-date in Portland supers.  Other larger craft brewers include Bridgeport holding at 2.6 share of $$ and Full Sail, holding at 2.2 share of $$.  The top 7 craft brewers in Portland at 26 share of $$.  New Belgium (up 15.5%), Lagunitas (up 10%) and Sierra (flat) are another almost 5 share of $$.  Those 10 craft brewers each have over 1 share of $$ in Portland. The other fastest-growing craft brewer in volatile Portland mkt: Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, up 133% and gained 0.3 share to 0.6.

    Source: http://www.craftbrewnews.net/

  • Taco Bell Launches Upscale ‘Taproom’ Chain


    Taco Bell is launching a new upscale taco chain.


    The restaurant, called U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom, will feature a menu of 10 premium tacos, thick-cut fries, milkshakes, craft beer, and wine, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, an industry publication.


    The first location is set to open in Huntington Beach, Calif., this summer. Taco Bell declined to elaborate on expansion plans.


    Here are some of the menu items, according to NRN.

    • Winner Winner:Southern-style fried chicken breast with South of the Border gravy, roasted corn, pico de gallo, jalapenos, and cilantro in a flour tortilla.
    • One-Percenter: Lobster, garlic butter, red cabbage slaw, and pico de gallo on crispy fry bread.
    • Brotherly Love: Carne asada steak, grilled peppers and onions, roasted poblano queso, and cotija cheese in a flour tortilla.

    The side of fries comes with dipping sauces including “ghost chile ketchup” and “roasted poblano crema.” One of the beer-spiked milkshakes on the menu, called the “Mexican Car Bomb,” has vanilla ice cream, tequila caramel sauce, chocolate flakes, and Guinness.


    Tacos will be priced at about $4 each, and the average check size is expected to be roughly $12 with a drink.


    Customers won’t be able to customize their tacos like at Chipotle, but they will be able to watch their food being made.


    “Most dishes will be prepared in-house, in glass-enclosed kitchens that allow guests to see meat grilling or tacos in the works — though a few ingredients will come from outside suppliers, like the Texas smoked brisket or Southern pulled pork,” NRN reports.


    The new concept is meant to attract a demographic of higher-income edgy foodies who would never step foot inside a Taco Bell.


    “We could spend time and money trying to get these people interested in Taco Bell,” but they would probably never become regular customers, Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed told Ad Age. “We thought, maybe there’s a new brand we can create to address this opportunity.”

    Source: http://money.msn.com/

  • Craft Beer Reaches for the Skies on US Airlines



    Attention passengers, craft beer has reached 35,000 feet.


    As the airline industry works to improve its food and beverage options, a new trend has emerged — airlines adding craft beers to their in-flight offerings. The assumption is that as more drinkers switch from mass market beers to specialty brews, they’ll be happier if they don’t have to give up the good stuff when they’re in the air.


    “We already had our drinkers on airplanes, we just didn’t have the beer,” says Jim Koch, co-founder of the Boston Beer Co., maker of Sam Adams. “They want to drink in the air what they’re drinking on the ground.”


    It’s another sign that airlines are getting better at responding to changing consumer tastes. And Americans certainly have developed a taste for craft beer. U.S. craft beer retail sales reached $14.3 billion in 2013, an increase of 20 percent from a year earlier, according to the Brewers Association, the trade group for the majority of U.S. brewing companies. The move also helps craft brewers gain brand awareness.


    While some Delta shuttle flights have offered Sam Adams in bottles for about 20 years and Virgin America has offered beer from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery for a few years, a critical mass of other airlines has joined them recently. Reasons for the surge include the craft beer industry’s new preference for cans over bottles — which are lighter and easier to store on drink carts — as well as greater availability of the beers.


    Southwest Airlines began selling cans of New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Fat Tire on its nearly 700 Southwest and AirTran planes earlier this year. Cans of Sam Adams joined the mile-high club with JetBlue over the summer, Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier Horizon Air offer brews from the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii, and last month regional carrier Sun Country partnered with Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing Co. to sell craft beer from its home base.


    “Pretty much any time there’s an opportunity to have a beer, whether it be at a sports venue, or at a club, or on a plane, I’d like to be able to have some craft beer,” said Omar Ansari, founder of Surly Brewing Co. “One of the big pieces to making that all work is that we finally have enough beer. … There’s a demand for it and a lot of breweries are making a lot more beer.”


    And that’s what passengers are telling airlines, too.


    “(Customers) began asking more and more for craft beer,” says Sonya Lacore, senior director of base operations for Southwest. “We’re running out of Fat Tire right now. … It’s clear that they are really going all out for it.”


    Of course, it’s not all good news. Much like the taste of food generally suffers inflight, craft brews also lose a little oomph at that altitude. Drinkers’ sense of taste can be a little dulled to the aromatics of the beers, and bitterness can be accentuated, reducing the overall taste, says Koch. Naturally, he said, a balanced malty and hoppy beer is best.


    “It is interesting, your taste buds operate slightly differently,” Koch said.


    Still, beer — craft or otherwise — isn’t typically the most popular alcoholic beverage sold on airplanes.


    Passengers aboard six North American airlines spent more than $11.3 million on beer during a five-month period last year, according to GuestLogix, which processes about 90 percent of onboard credit card transactions for North American carriers. By comparison, liquor sales neared $38 million and wine sales topped $14 million during that same period.


    On Southwest, where all of its alcohol is priced at $5, beer runs neck-and-neck to its liquor sales, Lacore said.


    But Koch says the size of the in-flight beer business is smaller than the statement being made about demand for craft beer. And the growing interest in craft beer could help send sales on planes soaring.


    Koch predicts that most flights that have beer will offer craft beer by the end of next year.


    “This is one more step for craft beer becoming a more widely accepted experience for people,” Koch said.

    Source: http://money.msn.com/

  • Brewery Creates ‘Walking Dead’-Inspired Beer Made with Real Brains


    Would you like some brains in your beer?


    Philadelphia’s Dock Street Brewing Company will release a zombie-friendly brew in honor of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”


    The American Pale Stout, which has been dubbed Dock Street Walker, is made with malted wheat, oats, flaked barley, cranberry and an extra-special ingredient — smoked goat brains.


    “The pre-sparge-brain-addition provides this beer with intriguing, subtle smoke notes,” the brewery says in a press release. “In true walker fashion, don’t be surprised if its head doesn’t hang around forever.


    The beverage, which Dock Street Brewing Company is calling “quite possibly the smartest beer you’ll ever drink,” will be released on Sunday before “The Walking Dead” season finale.


    This isn’t the first time a brewery has crafted a beer in honor of an AMC drama

    Source: http://www.nydailynews.com

  • Jelly Belly to Introduce Draft Beer Flavored Beans



    Yes, the Draft Beer beans do actually taste like beer, but we’re a bit befuddled about our excitement level. To the chemical flavor guy at JB, congratulations you deserve a promotion, or at least a bonus.

    If I can talk to you man to (wo)man for a second — this bean probably doesn’t land in your top 10 favorite flavors, hell it may not even crack the top 100. How can it when they have Coldstone flavors? And unfortunately for our alcoholic readers of the site, the beans do not contain a smidgen of alcohol. But if you’re an addict of multiple vices and your vapor cig isn’t cutting it – the flavor of these beans might help you get through the trenches:


    We’re probably most excited for the new chocolate covered addition of last year’s Tabasco jelly bean. But for some apparent reason, JB decided to feature the new packaging around the entire booth and NOT HAVE SAMPLES AVAILABLE.

    This is a complete travesty since we’re at show that parallels a Saturday morning at Costco, if that Costco took Alex Rodriguez levels of HGH and found a way to rain down samples from the heavens. Shame on you JB. You temptress. So we ate some the Tabasco flavored beans with some Mexican chocolate from another booth because that’s our version of R&D. This bean really has some potential.


    Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/