This Week in Beer News: MillerCoors Labor Dispute, Gluten-Free Gets Popular, and the Bruery Accidentally Spoils Its Beer
You're only halfway through the week and already that celebratory barrel-aged you saved for the weekend is calling your name, but first make sure it's not spoiled from a Lactobacillus infection. Let another edition of This Week In Beer News hold you over to the weekend.
This week went relatively smoothly compared to last: no insane break-ins, stabbings, or beatings in the name of beer -- although with the frenzy that is the growing craft beer revolution, you can never completely rule it out.
However, some things are getting serious with the rising popularity of gluten-free beers, a labor dispute with one of America's largest production breweries and Wal-Mart's hoping to strike gold with more beer sales.
Bloomberg news reports that Wal-Mart has been quietly, but aggressively, attempting to increase its beer market share over the past year, doubling the number of alcohol buyers, offering discounts on brands, and expanding its craft beer selection. Even though increasing alcohol sales would go against the late Sam Walton's philosophy on alcohol, recently Wal-Mart's corporate attitude on this has been changing. Just last year two Walton grandsons successfully campaigned to overturn a ban on retail alcohol sales in Wal-Mart's home county of Benton.
Some dissatisfaction is afoot in Milwaukee as more then 400 workers at the MillerCoors brewing facility there picket off the clock last Thursday over labor disputes with the company. The workers' contract expired on August 2, but was extended until the 13th. The Union and the brewery had been in active discussions when today both parties were able to reach a deal. There has not been a work stoppage at MillerCoors since 1983.
With a market approaching $5 million, gluten-free beers are becoming more popular as people become more aware of gluten intolerance. Gluten-free beers are made with sorghum, millet, or rice instead of wheat or barley. Since craft beer already caters to a picky market, craft brewers are seeking to tap in on the pickier elements.
In a letter sent yesterday to members of its Hoarder, Reserve, and Preservation societies, The Bruery announced that it had to halt distribution and sales on bottles of its Ebony and Oak because it contained "higher than expected" levels of lactobacillus, which apparently turned the barrel-aged stout into a sour barrel-aged stout. The Bruery said that lactobacillus is a frequent by-product of aging in oak barrels, although the risk of contamination was minimal. However, upon bottling, the yeast strain had a field day and soured the beer. Some people apparently wanted to try it anyway, but The Bruery just wouldn't let them.
Cycle Brewing, an offshoot of Peg's Cantina in Gulfport, is looking to open its facility in downtown St. Petersburg sometime in September. Located at 534 Central Avenue, the new brewery will use a seven-barrel system and allow brewer Doug Dozark brew is recipes there while continuing to brew at Peg's.
Stone Brewing is taking over all taps at World of Beer on August 22 starting at 7 p.m. EST, with a video link-up with CEO and co-founder Greg Koch, who will be leading the countdown to the simultaneous tapping of all Stone kegs. Included in the taps will be a special release of Ruination Grapefruit Slam IPA, brewed exclusively for World of Beer on this day.
Citigroup analyst Vivien Azer recently said that Boston Beer Company could slash prices to undercut the competition and boost is advertising budget in the coming months. However, it's not clear when a discount could actually appear on the shelves. According to the International Business Times, Azer said BBC is scheduled to offer preliminary pricing guidance in three months.
Fox Broadcasting Company recently purchased the rights to a possible prime-time sitcom TV show based on the Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware. The show would star Ken Marino ("Party Down," "The State"), who is a longtime friend of Sam Calagione, founder and President of Dogfish Head, and helped Calagione paint the brewery's flagship Rehoboth Beach brewpub before it first opened. The show is not a sure thing quite yet. Even though Fox purchased the rights, it doesn't necessarily mean the show will air.
HopCat, a Michigan-based brewpub, hopes to break the Guinness World record for the most taps from a single brewery in one night, and they're teaming with Short's Brewing Company to do it. On August 22, HopCat hopes to have at least 100 taps from Short's at its East Lansing location. The previous record was 70 taps from one brewery at a bar in California set back in 2012.
Maryland's Flying Dog Brewery recently took a jab at North Carolina-based breweries with a Facebook advertisement of The Truth Imperial IPA, which the company describes as including "some of the most distinct Pacific Northwest varietals available to craft brewers today" in terms of hops. The label shows the state of North Carolina crossed-out with a green "x". The ad was an apparent reference to Sierra Nevada, its rival, which recently built a satellite brewery near Asheville. After leaving some Facebook users perplexed and a little insulted over the strange ad, Flying Dog removed it and announced it will be releasing a new imperial IPA called The Truth.
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