I will also post the top five stories no later than early afternoon today. It’s getting time to jump into 2012 already!
10. Regional craft breweries announce, begin major expansion projects
It’s been an ongoing story the past few (several?) years but 2011 was just bonkers for craft beer. The segment was up somewhere around 15% from 2010.
In May, Beernews.org reported that small brewery investments would top $250 million in the coming years…
Dogfish Head’s growth plan is only one of several in the works for the nation’s top regional craft brewers…
Stone Brewing announced a $26.6 million project just last week. A portion of that investment will push annual capacity to around 500k barrels.
Last fall, Bell’s Brewery announced a $52 million project that will take place over the course of several years.
Lagunitas Brewing is undergoing a $9.5 million expansion that will increase capacity to 600k barrels.
With Minnesota’s governor signing off on law changes this week, Surly Brewing can now pursue building its $20 million dream brewery.
And that’s not even a comprehensive list. Incredible.
9. Sierra Nevada Brewing, New Belgium announce they are looking for locations on which to build on the East Coast
In December, it seemed like every day featured at least one news item from one of these two breweries. Mostly Asheville, North Carolina-related rumors.
Sierra Nevada Brewing and New Belgium Brewing are both planning large expansion projects (between $75 and $150 million IIRC) on the East Coast. A second facility would give each brewery a big advantage when it comes to distribution and logistics. Not to mention, both are eco-friendly and looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
The search has gone up and down the Appalachian Trail it seems.
For a while, it seemed like Sierra Nevada was going to land in Tennessee. Then Tennessee fell out of the running. Then it looked like Virginia was out of the running but they are apparently back in it.
Now all we know is that Sierra Nevada is looking at North Carolina, Virginia and a few other places. New Belgium, meanwhile, is looking at North Carolina, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and a couple other locations they won’t name. Announcements are expected to come early in the year but who knows…the process has taken longer than breweries wanted it to take.
This will still be a huge story to watch going into early 2012.
8. Several breweries announce sweeping distribution cuts
The spring of 2011 brought along a number of rocky news items with respect to distribution. The supply and demand issue for many breweries finally came to a head and many breweries announced that they were cutting off distribution. The story was generally always the same.
So it is bittersweet for us to announce that we are pulling out of, or limiting some of our core beers from, a number of states. Yes this sucks. The glass-half-full view is that we (and a handful of other U.S. craft breweries making similar moves) have to do this because your numbers the number of U.S. drinkers buying and enjoying craft beer – are growing so quickly! We sincerely apologize for any frustrations this may cause distributors, retailers, and beer lovers who are affected by our decision.
Some breweries actually expanded distribution, of course. Beernews.org charted out the ‘comings and goings‘ in April. Growth comes with pain. Who knew.
7. Natural disasters wreak havoc on breweries, brewpubs
Beer vats were smashed and products washed away at the Sendai plant of Kirin Holdings Co., Japan’s second-biggest brewer. Kirin hasn’t been able to confirm the safety of more than 10 sales staff in the city, spokesman Jun Sato said by e-mail [on Saturday].
Workers at the Sendai plant evacuated to the rooftop to avoid danger, and Kirin’s Toride plant halted operations because of damage, Sato said.
And then there was Hurricane Irene which seemed to hit Vermont worse than any other state. The story of The Alchemist is well-documented at this point.
Since my last blog, we have opened a new brewery, and lost an old brewery. On the night of August 28th, the Winooski River jumped its banks and laid waste to the town of Waterbury. It was an indescribable feeling watching the muddy flood waters roll over the floor of the pub. I guess the word shitty would probably do the best job. It was an extremely trying week, made considerably more bearable by the overwhelming support of our valued employees and customers.
Out of both incidents came a silver lining: brewers collaborating on beers to help fund relief efforts in both places. Stone Brewing actually released one beer to help fund Japan’s efforts and another to help fund Vermont’s efforts.
6. The ‘drunk’ tweet heard around the world
Mashable posted an article yesterday about how people use social media in times of emergency. Later in the night, one of the largest health and crisis management organizations in the world and one featured in the article had an emergency of its own.
Well, she may not have been drunk but at some point in the evening, Gloria Huang was going to be well on her way to, as she calls it, #gettingslizzerd. The mistake she made is not tweeting this from her personal account but the account of her employer, the Red Cross…to 270,000 people.
Huang’s beer of choice that night was Dogfish Head Midas Touch. The brewery got a real kick out of the whole thing and the Red Cross was completely cool about it…so much so that the two companies banded together for a fundraising effort for the Red Cross.
The tweet has since been the subject of countless blog posts around the caveats of social media.