Brewscape: The Latest Craft Beer Brand News

Cannabis-Infused Beverages Emerge as Potential Beer Industry Disruptor

U.S. consumers looking to catch a buzz without the booze will soon be able to purchase an assortment of beer-centric products thanks to a pair of ventures aiming to disrupt the current alcohol market with cannabis-infused beverages.

Petaluma, California-headquartered Lagunitas Brewing Company, which has a well-documented history with marijuana and is now wholly owned by Amsterdam-based Heineken International B.V., has announced the launch of two psychedelic sparkling water products.

Called Hi-Fi Hops, the two “IPA-inspired” non-alcoholic beverages are made in partnership with CannaCraft — which produces the AbsoluteXtracts line of vape cartridges — and contain zero alcohol, zero calories, and zero carbohydrates.

Set to debut at California-licensed dispensaries on July 30, the hoppy sparkling water beverages will cost $8 and come in two doses: one containing 5 mg of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and 5 mg of CBD (Cannabidiol), and another containing 10 mg of THC.

According to representatives from both companies, who declined to reveal the specific financial terms of their arrangement, Lagunitas will produce the hop-infused, carbonated water and ship the liquid to CannaCraft’s facility in nearby Santa Rosa, California. CannaCraft will then infuse its emulsified THC and CBD oils into the hoppy water, and package upwards of 25,000 12 oz. cans (about 75 barrels) for distribution throughout California.

Meanwhile, Cannabiniers, another Cannabis company that has operations in California and Nevada, also announced the launch of Two Roots Brewing, which it claims produces “the world’s first line of CannaCrafted non-alcoholic THC and CBD infused craft beer.”

Kevin Love, the company’s director of product development, said Two Roots brews its five styles of beer using traditional methods and then strips alcohol from the product using European manufactured “de-alcoholizing” equipment.

Like the Lagunitas offerings, Two Roots’ near beer is shipped to a Cannabiniers facility and infused with approximately 2.5 mg of emulsified THC.
While the dosage of the Two Roots products is lower than Hi-Fi Hops, Love said the company’s use of “nano-particulate, water-soluble” THC, as opposed to oil-based THC, allows for greater absorption within a period of five to seven minutes.

The introduction of cannabis-infused concoctions from Lagunitas and Two Roots Brewing come at a time when traditional beer sales are going flat. According to the Beer Institute, a trade association for the brewing industry, which cited data from Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) during a recent report, domestic tax paid shipments of U.S. beer were down 3.5 percent through May.

Legal cannabis sales in North America eclipsed $9 billion in 2017, according to BDS Analytics, a leading cannabis industry research firm.

Brewers Association Sells Top GABF Sponsorships to Buffalo Wild Wings, Jameson

The Brewers Association (BA) inked a pair of high profile sponsorship deals with Buffalo Wild Wings and Pernod Ricard-owned Jameson that will give the two companies prominent floor space at this year’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF). The BA’s deal with the chicken wing chain, which was acquired last November by Arby’s for $2.9 billion, will include a 3,600 sq. ft. sports bar offering wings and yet-to-be-determined craft beers while showing live sporting events on several TVs.

In addition to its activation within the festival, Buffalo Wild Wings will also feature some of this year’s award-winning beers throughout its stores.
Meanwhile, the 12,600 sq. ft. Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden will feature 17 beers from the popular series, including collaborations with Cigar City, DC Brau, Fat Head’s, Heavy Seas, Harpoon, and Revolution, among others.

Speaking to BevNET, BA marketing director Ann Obenchain said the not-for-profit trade group was looking for “activations” that would improve the attendee experience and promote independent craft beer. “Both Buffalo Wild Wings and Jameson do that,” she said. “They’re essentially gardens or mini-festivals within the festival.”

Financial terms of the sponsorships were not disclosed, however, Obenchain said both companies signed one year deals with options to renew in 2019.
In addition to the Buffalo Wild Wings and Jameson sponsorships, the BA is also in talks with rideshare companies to sponsor the event and offer other “smaller onsite activations.”

Newly Appointed Heineken USA Chief Becomes First Woman to Lead Major US Beer Company

Heineken USA announced on June 5 that Maggie Timoney, who currently serves as the CEO and managing director of Heineken Ireland, would take over as CEO of the international beer maker’s U.S. division on September 1.

With the appointment, Timoney, a U.S. citizen who got her start in the beer business in 1993 as a sales supervisor for New York’s Sound Distributing Corporation, will become the first female CEO at a major U.S. beer company.

“Maggie is a competitive and energetic leader who is known for inspiring teams, operationalizing plans and mobilizing organizations to deliver business results,” Marc Busain, Heineken Americas region president, said via a press release.

Current Heineken CEO Ronald den Elzen, who took over the position in mid-2015, will step down from the U.S. post and return to Holland for a “global role” within Heineken N.V.

Beavertown Brewery Sells Minority Stake

London’s Beavertown Brewery sold a minority stake to Heineken International B.V. in June, confirming a month-long rumor that the craft beer company was on the hunt for an investment partner. Terms of the deal, including the amount and the specific size of the stake sold, were not disclosed.
A May report from Mergermarket, citing unnamed sources who were familiar with the transaction, suggested that a potential deal could be worth more than $133 million for up to a 50 percent stake in the brewery.

As part of the deal, Beavertown will be able to tap into upwards of $55 million of growth capital to build a new 450,000-hectoliter (383,000 barrels) brewery, which is dubbed “Beaverworld” and slated to open in late 2019. “This is about ambition,” Beavertown founder Logan Plant, son of Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, wrote on the company’s blog. “I am driven to take myself, our team and the brewery to new levels. I truly believe this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, which we as a team have worked so hard to create for ourselves.”

For its part, Heineken said it was “honoured” that Beavertown had “chosen to collaborate” with a company that distributes more than 300 beers and ciders to 190 countries. “We love what they’re doing and are excited to be able to help them do more,” a Heineken spokeswoman wrote to Brewbound. “Our minority investment means they can make their dream of Beaverworld a reality and get their fantastic beers into the hands of even more drinkers.”

Heineken’s minority investment in Beavertown follows recent deals with Belize Brewing Company, London’s Brixton Brewery, and California’s Lagunitas Brewing, which it now wholly-owns.