Brew News – May 2017 Edition

by: Tierney Pomone
May 19, 2017

Your brews news is coming in a little early this month because things have been crazy! A buyout with the biggest backlash I’ve seen yet, hops hoarding, and more await you in this month’s edition.

Wicked Weed Sells Out

Top story and all that everyone wants to talk about right now: Wicked Weed was purchased by AB-InBev earlier this month.

While it came as a shock to the majority of us, for others it was just brushed off like all the other buyouts. Maybe we all thought Wicked Weed was different; their beers were amazing, they were innovating beyond most breweries as youthful, and they’re in Asheville – beer mecca!

Alas, we were wrong. Here’s the full story:

Wicked Weed was initially funded by friends of the family, including Rick Guthy, who isn’t familiar name to most, but Guthy is part of Guthy Renker, an infomercial business (think Proactiv and “Think & Grow Rich”). Guthy and his wife were impressed by the beers presented to them by Luke & Walt Dickinson (partners, owners, brewers) and decided to invest. This explains how they started an enormous brewery and expanded four times in four years. The four-partner operation (Luke & Walk Dickinson + Rick, Denis, and Ryan Guthy) says that the intent the sale is to, “allow Wicked Weed to secure resources and focus less on the business operations and more on the creative process of brewing.”

During all buyouts there are usually two camps: team “as long as the quality is still there I’m in” and team “I can’t believe you sold out, boycott.” This time is no different, but lines are blurred. I’ve heard a lot of the “how could one refuse that amount of money,” and even more “it’s not us vs. them anymore.” Many other breweries have aired their displeasure with Wicked Weed, and almost all of them withdrew from Wicked Weed’s sour invitational brew fest, which has now been canceled.

To me, it’s still “us vs them,” meaning Big Beer vs small, independent, local beer. I couldn’t be so passionate about this industry if I felt any other way. I couldn’t say that I support and champion the efforts of the breweries and their families, which have in some cases, have become my colleagues, friends, and family, and idly say it’s okay to still support ‘Big Beer.’ I’ve seen the numbers that ‘Big Beer’ puts behind lobbying to push legislation to limit the success of small, independent craft breweries. I can’t get behind that, and I’m very sad to say that I will miss Wicked Weed’s beer.

AB-InBev is Hoarding the Hops

Another topic that people can’t get around right now is a statement from AB-InBev about their ownership of South African hops, and they aren’t sharing. When AB InBev purchased SABMiller last year, they gained control of these coveted South African hops. Previously, anyone could purchase the hops, but now their full yield is going only to AB InBev-owned companies.

While this South African hoppage only accounts for about 1% of the world hop acreage and production, an incredibly small amount, the slight against brewers seems to feel quite large. Breweries across the country screamed about it on social media. Twitter went crazy. At first, I was pretty pissed off too, but the more research I do on this one, the less concerned I am.

AB InBev did the research and development on these particular hops and helped to cultivate them in South Africa, an area where hops wouldn’t normally grow. This year, the yield was quite small, so they’re keeping them for themselves. That makes perfect sense to me honestly. I will definitely be continuing to follow this story and ones like it . Knowledge is power, be in the know!

Philly Beer Week Celebrates Year 10

In a more positive department, always sunny Philadelphia celebrates their 10th Philly Beer Week from June 1-11. Would it shock you to know that I’ve never attended a PBW event? I hope we all can make it someday, and when you do, tweet me and let me know what part was your favorite. A little HBW R&D.

So what’s Philly Beer Week? Well, it’s similar to Harrisburg Beer Week in that there are events all over Philly, even some spillage into NJ, with the aim to celebrate craft beer you can drink in Philly. The Hammer of Glory is their mascot of sorts and is passed around town like the Olympic Torch all week long. PBW is America’s first beer week and has inspired basically every other beer week across the country. Congrats Philly Beer Week on 10 years!

Categories: Craft Beer

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