MillerCoors wants to buy craft brewers cheap


MillerCoors wants your craft brewery, and they want it cheap.

According to a report in, the head of MillerCoors says it the company is interested in acquiring some U.S. craft beer brewers but is being deterred by the high prices of these new assets.

Do they want to low ball the deals? It would seem so, but then again, this should not come as a surprise.

From the article:

“The brewer, a JV between Molson Coors and SABMiller, yesterday reported a 3.7% slip in third-quarter volumes as a strong performance from its “above premium” brands failed to offset declines for Coors Light and Miller Lite. The firm’s Q3 sales were flat, while profits were up 8% to US$376.5m.”

The article quotes CEO Tom Long in a post-results conference call:
““We’re actively looking at those that would create incremental shareholder value, but it’s also no secret that those valuations are extremely high right now.”

Click here for more on this, and thanks to for the tip!

D Mag lists top events to attend during North Texas Beer Week


Thank you, D Magazine, for this outstanding roundup of What Not To Miss during North Texas Beer Week!

From the article:

“Beer-lovers unite each year during North Texas Beer Week to raise their commemorative glasses in honor of the ever-growing Texas beer culture. It’s a celebration that begins with a number of events, Untapped Festival being the biggest — which look place this past weekend — and continues through Sunday, November 9. There are over 285 froth-filled parties taking place within the next week. So, whether you like your mug filled up with an IPA, porter, stout, or even pumpkin ale, you will find at least one happening to quench your thirst and give proper thanks to the great beers of North Texas. Here is a roundup of our top events to hit this week. Cheers.”

For a full schedule of events stretching through Sunday, click here.


AAB Mag: Beer industry reacts to “The New Yorker” November cover

The Nov. 3, 2014 cover of The New Yorker features a drawing titled “Hip Hops” by artist Peter de Sève.

Here’s a reader-talker for you.

The awesome All About Beer Magazine noted a pretty hot cover  on this most recent New Yorker Magazine making waves in the beer industry, and did a great little roundup of the reactions for those of us who like to hang around the water cooler – or keg, whatever – and chat about cultural milestones such as this one.

From the article by John Holl:

The New Yorker released its annual food issue this week and before a hardcopy arrived in my mailbox, my Facebook feed was filled with pictures of the cover. Friends in the beer industry talked about how cool it was and said it’s a sign that beer has “arrived.” The New Yorker asked artist Peter de Sève to draw the cover (called “Hip Hops”) and the magazine goes on to say that the drawing “captures the appropriate seriousness with which beer is handled these days by many Brooklyn restaurants and the people who dine in them.” It wraps up by saying: “It’s an unprecedentedly excellent time to drink beer in Brooklyn, as the cover suggests. Just don’t become a snob about it.”

In my opinion, “Brooklyn” could easily be replaced by “the United States” and this scene could happen in many places (maybe minus the neck tattoo).”

(Unless you’re in Austin, then you’d add a beard. – Ed. note)

Click here for a fun read.

National Beer Wholesalers Association Announces 2014-2015 Board of Directors Officers

Eric Best and Craig Purser (NWBA)


Maryland Beer Distributor Eric Best to Lead Association’s Efforts on Behalf of America’s 3,300 Licensed, Independent Beer Distributors

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) is proud to announce its Board of Directors officers for the 2014-2015 term. Eric Best, general manager/partner of Bob Hall LLC in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, takes the helm as chairman of the Board. He assumed the position and its responsibilities during NBWA’s 77th Annual Convention held September 28 – October 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Other officers of NBWA’s Board of Directors include:

  • Vice Chairman Travis Markstein, president of Markstein Beverage Co. in San Marcos, California
  • Treasurer Paul Bertucci, executive vice president of F.E.B. Distributing Company, Inc. in Gulfport and Capital City Beverages, Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Secretary Michael Bamonti, president & general manager of J. J. Taylor Distributing Minnesota, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Immediate Past Chairman Greg LaMantia, member/manager of L & F Distributors, LLC in Texas and New Mexico

As chairman, Best will help lead the association as it works to advocate for licensed, independent beer distributors and educate elected officials, regulators, media and the public about the importance of effective state-based alcohol regulation and the regulatory, economic and commercial value of independent beer distributors.

“Eric has served on the NBWA Board of Directors since 2009, giving him a full background and working knowledge of the association’s goals and agenda,” said NBWA President & CEO Craig Purser. “He is a thoughtful leader and consensus builder, which makes him a very effective advocate for his fellow beer distributors. I look forward to working closely with Eric to advance the association’s goals in the year ahead.”

NBWA and America’s beer distributors support the state-based system of alcohol controls, which ensures an orderly marketplace and protects the public by providing transparency and accountability in the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol. Beer distributors serve as the critical link in the American beer distribution system, sourcing products from brewers and importers and delivering products to state-licensed retailers. This effective system provides access to market for all beer brands – enabling American consumers to choose from the widest selection of products in the world – and works to ensure that only safe, fresh beer reaches American consumers of legal drinking age.

Best manages Bob Hall LLC – an 81-year-old distributorship – in partnership with the Hall brothers, Richard and Clarence, on behalf of the Hall family. Bob Hall LLC has 100 full-time employees and has long been recognized for its contributions to the Southern Maryland community, particularly its work with local law enforcement on responsible drinking and safe driving programs. Bob Hall LLC distributes brands for Anheuser-Busch InBev and Constellation Brands, along with a solid portfolio of craft beer including New Belgium. The company also created a High End Brands division in 2013 to further develop the craft and import segment of its business.

Best holds an MBA degree with a concentration in Finance from the University of Baltimore and a B.S. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has served as chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Panel and currently serves on the Constellation Brands Beer Division Distributor Council.

Some snippets from the Texas Craft Brewers Festival coverage


Another successful year for the sold-out Texas Craft Brewers Festival, where one chocolate stout sold out of 2,000 pours before 4 p.m. and another brewer served beer out of an ice cream cart.

I mention these little factoids as a tip of the growler to Austin Eater, which gave us this highly colorful take on this awesome tradition – which was, by many accounts, the best yet.

The completely sold out Texas Craft Brewers Festival brought together nearly 60 breweries and brewpubs to Fiesta Gardens on a gray, hot, and slightly drizzling Saturday. For the seventh year in a row, the festival celebrated the best craft beers Texas has to offer, with even more breweries, brewpubs, and food to soak up the booze this time around. For those who weren’t able to make it out, read on for the hangovers, observed.” 

Click the link above to read his list of best named beers, and then here’s a good take on Culturemap’s top 5 best tasting.

“Beer fstivals in Texas have received a notoriously bad rap over the years. Some events have been organized by profiteers not concerned by guest experience or quality offerings, while others have been built by well-meaning (but overwhelmed) groups who simply couldn’t deliver on their promises. How nice it was to visit the 2014 Texas Craft Brewers Festival — an event that was well-planned, well-structured and executed with an experienced and thoughtful hand.” 

Check back here for links to more coverage as it comes out, and feel free to put your own links in the comments!



Beer distributors, including Hopkins of Texas, recognized for service to industry and locals


The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) honored several industry leaders today during NBWA’s 77th Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The first NBWA Life Service Award was presented posthumously to Mike Hopkins, Sr., former executive director of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas and the founder of Mike Hopkins Distributing Company in Brenham, Texas.

From an article posted on Brewbound:

2013-2014 NBWA Chairman of the Board Greg LaMantia said, “Mike was truly legendary as he possessed the most unique of perspectives: that of a fierce professional advocate for wholesalers and that of an owner of an independent distribution company.”

NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser added, “Following his personal philosophy of ‘Pass-It-On,’ Mike served on the Texas A&M Chancellor’s Council and volunteered for the Make-a-Wish Foundation among other organizations. Locally, if there was a club, he was a supporting member.”

“On September 9, Congressman Kevin Brady honored Mike Hopkins on Capitol Hill, with a tribute in the Congressional Record,” Purser said.

LaMantia said, “As the Congressional Record read, ‘Those who knew him and learned from him were blessed to have a true visionary as a mentor and a friend.’”

A second NBWA Life Service Award was presented to Allen Everette, who joined the beer distribution industry as the chief financial officer of Orange & Blue Distributing in Champaign, Illinois, in 1979.

The NBWA Industry Service Award was presented to Jeremy Pisca, executive director of the Idaho Beer and Wine Distributors Association for his energy, insight and service to the distribution industry.

This is just one of many reasons to get to know your local beer distributor. Here are a few more. 

Shameful, wrong-headed attack is the mark of political amateurs

John Nau III (From UTSA Today website)

A pro-life group has launched a shameful, albeit quixotic, attack on Republican donor and successful beer distributor John Nau because (GASP!) his wife allegedly supported Planned Parenthood in the past.

After 20 years in journalism and 17 covering Texas state politics, this kind of attack STILL sort of amazes me.

Because what this anonymous diatribe (from what appears to be a bogus email “”) is actually doing with its new, cheap little website aimed at Nau, of Silver Eagle Distributors, is attacking Greg Abbott, their only hope for a pro-life governor this cycle.

Who made THAT call?

And while I’m asking questions, who is this group whose donors can’t be traced? And which can’t put its own name on its email OR the attack website? This doesn’t sound like the typical action of the usual pro-life groups in Texas, who rarely operate in anonymity.

Whoever it is, they’ve gotten all wrapped around the axle about the fact that Abbott has named Nau his campaign treasurer, therefore making him clearly his policy advisor on women’s healthcare because that’s what the money guys do, right? (RIGHT? They fill out the ethics reports and advise candidates on abortion. RIGHT?! What do you mean, NO?!) 

This is really bad, according to this pro-life email, because you know… Greg Abbott HAS ALWAYS BEEN SO WISHY WASHY ABOUT ABORTION.

I mean, what if Nau changes Abbott’s mind and turns him into a big ole abortionist?! IT COULD HAPPEN!

“Why does Greg Abbott have someone who is supporting planned parenthood (sic) as his campaign treasurer?” reads the website.

And then, apparently because they needed to fill white space, they demand to know why U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has Nau as his national finance chairman.

Because, you know. Cornyn HAS ALWAYS BEEN SO WISHY WASHY ABOUT ABORTION. Easily influenced by the far left. A real moderate, that one.

In its attack, the group called Nau “one of the most influential donors with the Associated Republicans of Texas and Texans for Lawsuit Reform” but then says he doesn’t support traditional Republican values.

Here again, I have to ask how a man who has donated boatloads of cash to ART and TLR can be accused of not supporting the GOP? Because perhaps he (or his wife) doesn’t agree on this one issue?

I have to say, if this were primary season, I’d at least be able to give them props on their timing. But Abbott is the nominee, guys. Take out after him, and succeed (OMG right?!), and who do you get? How do you win there?

John Nau has donated to myriad causes over the years and, God forbid, clearly subscribes to the modern-day notion that a man’s wife can support anything she damn well pleases.

This shameful attack on a guy (and wife) who is NOT a politician but who chooses to spend his money affecting the political process – and his time helping candidates that pro-lifers oughta oughta be thanking God for EVERY DAY – is about the most ridiculous political posturing I’ve seen in a very long time.

Let me tell you a little story.

In Oct 2008, the Texas Conservative Review slammed a political activist, Kathy Haigler, for attacking Joan Huffman, now a GOP senator, because she took a donation from Nau, characterized in her attack as a known PP supporter.

Calling the attack a sure sign that the “silly season” in politics had begun, a month before the elections, the TCR – another liberal rag, am I right?! – had this to say:

“What does this have to do with Joan Huffman and her strong pro-life credentials? Absolutely nothing, especially since John Nau has donated to about every key conservative officeholder in the state of Texas, and has even given money to Ms. Haigler’s choice for SD 17.” (EVERY KEY CONSERVATIVE OFFICEHOLDER IN THE STATE OF TEXAS – just making sure you saw that) EVEN HER CANDIDATE.

Huffman won, and as we all know, went on to firmly and categorically support Wendy Davis in her filibuster of the anti-abortion laws last summer.

OH WAIT, NO SHE DIDN’T. Because she’s pro-life. Just like Abbott.

And even John Nau, as powerful and influential and popular as he is, can’t change that. This attack is shameful and cheap, and only shows the weaknesses of his attackers.

Big Bend Brewing celebrates wild success


A young brewery out in West Texas is exploding onto the market after less than two years in existence, thanks for a thirst for craft beer in the region and a regulatory environment that clearly supports great brews.

Not to mention, they make a great beer that works well in the desert climes – a key part of the equation.

Big Bend Brewing Co., based just outside Alpine, is getting some major attention lately for its success in the remote West Texas region, where beer is big but crafts are few. With twice daily tours and quadrupled production in its first two years, BBC is a success story that inspires.

Says a recent Texas Monthly article:

“Supply interruptions notwithstanding, the brewery has built a loyal customer base in West Texas, where the beer is on tap in bars as far south as the Mexican border. Big Bend National Park stocks six-packs in its park convenience stores, and more than a hundred bars, restaurants and stores are on the brewery’s waiting list.

Nearly two years after producing its first kegs, Big Bend Brewing Company has quadrupled production.”

A recent article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram touts the brewery’s success and has this to say about its plans for the future:

“In a few years, Big Bend Brewing Co. plans to sell its chilled and canned beers in El Paso, Midland, Odessa, Lubbock, Big Spring and San Angelo, essentially all remaining West Texas markets.”

 We absolutely love to see the success of a great craft beer. It tells us two things: 1) that the regulatory environment is ideal for fast growth of craft beers and 2) that making a great beer and having a good marketing strategy is key to success.
Congratulations BBC!!!

Here’s why craft beers applaud the three-tier system

(By Erika Lambreton/TBIJ)

Because without it, Big Beer would take over. Many, many craft brewers know this. Unwilling to get caught up in the popular, though ineffectual and inaccurate, crafts-good-laws-bad drumbeat currently in vogue with a handful of brewers, guys like Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland understand that the laws protect them – and that loosening them would simply open the door for Big Beer to take over.

We see an excellent treatment of this issue in the Washington Examiner recently:

“The result is the “three-tier system,” in which brewers must sell to distributors rather than to retailers, and distributors must sell to retailers like liquor stores or bars rather than directly to consumers.

“That system helps craft brewers, says Jim Caruso, CEO of Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, by keeping markets “relatively open” for small producers.

“‘If the laws were such that Budweiser could brew the beer, control all the distribution, and have Budweiser bars,’ says Caruso, ”they would just — on every street — open bars, and only have Budweiser products. I could go there every day or once a week, and they’d never take my beer.’

“Without the three-tier system, Purser says, beer would be sold the way soda is, with supermarkets offering relatively few brand options and Coca-Cola and Pepsi sponsoring restaurants that serve only their drinks.” 

And that’s all I’m sayin.


ICYMI: Twin Peaks: In-house brewery could be key to success

Credit: Charlie L. Harper III

We love to see restaurants taking advantages of the new freedom craft beers have thanks to the laws passed last session by the Texas Lege with the support of the craft brew industry, the wholesalers and the retailers.

This report in the National Restaurant News discusses how this restaurant chain, which also owns the Ojos Locos restaurant/bars, believes its new craft beer option will help it capitalize on what it sells the most of – craft beer.  The article describes the chain as “a casual-dining chain, which is known for its all-female waitstaff and 29-degree-Fahrenheit tap beers” (treats for the eyes as well as the gut, in other words) and says this:

“There are very few breweries that can open up and inside of a year reach their max capacity without any selling costs. We don’t have to hire salesmen or brokers or anybody to go out and find us customers, … and we don’t have to incentivize retailers to carry our beer. It will really add to the profitability of our concept, both for our corporate stores and our franchisees in the market.”

The goal is to have the beer in all 21 of its properties across Texas – we’ll be waiting!

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