Here is the continuation of the top 30 beer stories of the year. If you haven’t seen 26 through 30 yet, they are right here.
25. Boston Beer Co. sues Anchor Brewing and employee for alleged employment contract breach
What do you get when you mix the oldest active craft brewery with the largest? A lawsuit.
After sales manager, Judd Hausner, left Boston Beer Co. to sign on with Anchor Brewing, the former sued over Hausner being in breach of a noncompete clause in his original employment contract. It got ugly pretty quickly with Boston Beer’s Jim Koch, Anchor’s Keith Greggor and Hausner all releasing public statements. Even Anchor friends, BrewDog and Tony Magee (of Lagunitas), chimed in on the suit…
The companies settled out of court earlier this month.
24. Then-Goose Island Brewmaster, Greg Hall’s infamous bar incident
For 24 hours back in April, a handful of beer blogs and The Chicago Tribune resembled something more along the lines of TMZ. But you can’t not report something like this…a brewmaster for one of the largest breweries in the country taking a leak in public. Per the Tribune:
It wasn’t celebrating the $38 million acquisition of his family’s brewery by Anheuser-Busch – it was just a birthday party. But it ended with a bartender saying that Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall urinated into two beer glasses while standing at the bar and Hall saying he “(screwed) up big time.”
This happened just a couple weeks after the announcement of Goose Island’s sale to Anheuser-Busch so you can take that statement a number of ways.
Hall is now working on a new startup, Virtue Cider.
23. Bell’s Brewery tells Northern Brewer to cease and desist.
This may be the most compelling story of the year from a broader perspective of how business and society intersect in today’s age of technology. In March, Bell’s sent a cease and desist letter to Northern Brewer, one of the largest homebrew stores in the country. Northern Brewer posted this on its Facebook page shortly after the incident:
So … we just received a letter from an attorney representing one of our favorite craft breweries; this letter informed us that we need to change the name of our Three Hearted Ale kit in a hurry. We’d love to hear your suggestions!
Considering how tightly-knit we all are through Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that provide ways to communicate instantly, businesses especially need to re-evaluate how the laws of the government differ from the laws of these new(-ish) communities. This area is still extremely grey and deserves its own post (or book).
Though both sides made up after the incident as far as we know, it was a head-scratcher that the two companies didn’t collaborate soon afterwards. What will go down as just a tiny black mark on 2011 could have become the stuff of legend like Avery and Russian River’s Collaboration Not Litigation.
Consider that food for thought as we head into what will be another year full of trademark conflicts and cease and desist letters.
22. The rise and fall of Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale
The news that Rogue Ales was working on a beer called Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale brought joy to many readers here in ways that 99% of other news items don’t. And then this happened…
Rogue Ales’ latest creation appeared in the WW office this morning, a collaboration with Voodoo Doughnuts called the Bacon Maple Ale, based on That Doughnut. Whilst we’re loath to give any attention to this blatant gimmickry, after tasting it, we feel a civic obligation to warn anyone who might be considering splashing $156 on a case. – Willamette Week
It wasn’t just Willamette Week either. Reviews that followed on ratings sites weren’t that much better either. It scored a 16 in its style on RateBeer. Ouch.
21. MillerCoors’ Tenth and Blake Beer Company keeps on pace with craft beer growth
Tenth and Blake makes up the largest piece of the pie in the better beer space, producing around three million barrels so what this division does and how it thinks should be of great importance to the smaller players in the industry. This week, multiple reports surfaced that signal that the company does “get it” and is demonstrating so through its investment in a craft brewery like Terrapin Beer Co. and its Brewers Unleashed program.
The company has big goals, too.
Tenth and Blake President and CEO, Tom Cardella, filed the Terrapin deal under what he called an “alliance strategy” at a recent company presentation. MillerCoors CEO, Tom Long, recently shared that they are, “in dialogue with lots of companies.”
If Tenth and Blake is to meet that lofty goal of 60% growth over three years, acquisitions and equity investments in small breweries will be necessary to get there.
Looking ahead to 2012, don’t be surprised to see an M&A deal from these guys that makes its way into the year’s top stories.